Bikers, hikers, campers and anyone else interested in the potential of carrying around lightweight, powdered alcohol that only needs a little water to become a cocktail now have reason to be excited about a new product called Palcohol – so long as it manages to make it through the final regulatory hurdles in the United States.
Powdered beer mixes are already in existence, but this ups the ante.
Palcohol is the creation of Mark Phillips and his Arizona-based company, Lipsmark, LLC, which was founded in 2012. Patents are pending on the product and the processes behind it, so few details are available on just exactly how it's made, but the Palcohol website answers the question "What's in it?" with:
"It varies per version but basically, alcohol [...] and in the cocktail versions, natural flavorings and Sucralose as a sweetener. The ingredients of each version are listed on the front of the package. Palcohol is gluten free."
The amount of alcohol in the mix isn't exactly clear, but the company says that adding five ounces of liquid to a packet of Palcohol would be "equal to a standard mixed drink."
Palcohol will be available in six varieties including "V which is powder made from premium vodka distilled four times," "R which is powder made from premium Puerto Rican rum," as well as four cocktail mixes to make an instant Cosmopolitan, Mojito, "Powderita" (similar to a Margarita), or Lemon Drop.
Palcohol has already become the subject of some controversy, following suggestions by the company that it could be brought in to sporting events to avoid paying high prices for drinks at a game, or even snorted to "get drunk almost instantly" – not entirely unlike the idea behind WAHH Quantum Sensations alcohol spray.
This wording is now gone from the Palcohol site, replaced with the claim that previous versions of the site were "experimenting with some humorous and edgy verbiage about Palcohol" and "Even though the old verbiage was a bit edgy, we clearly stated then, and still remain adamant, that Palcohol should be used in a responsible and legal manner."
In the wake of so much international attention this week, there's now some confusion about the approval status of Palcohol with the United States Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB). A TTB official told the Associated Press that Palcohol was approved in "error."
A response on the Palcohol site reads:
"We have been in touch with the TTB and there seemed to be a discrepancy on our fill level, how much powder is in the bag. There was a mutual agreement for us to surrender the labels. This doesn't mean that Palcohol isn't approved. It just means that these labels aren't approved. We will re-submit labels. We don't have an expected approval date as label approval can vary widely."
It's unclear how this label flap will affect the planned release of the product. The company site says that Palcohol will be sold as soon as the second half of 2014 wherever liquor is available in the United States and abroad, as well as online.