Happy Hour

I’ll have a dry martini please — extra, extra dry.

After years of legal hurdles, powdered alcohol (Palcohol) has been approved for sale in the United States by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau. But as is often the case with new products featuring heavily regulated substances, there are some fears, legitimate and otherwise, about Palcohol.

From the Associated Press:

Several states have already moved to ban powdered alcohol, including lawmakers in Colorado who last month advanced legislation to temporarily halt its sale. That bill has since morphed to ensure the regulation of powdered alcohol as if it were liquid alcohol once it gets federal approval.

Concerns have included abuse by minors, the potential to snort the powder and whether Palcohol’s light weight would make it easy to sneak alcohol into public events or spike drinks.

UPDATE: It turns out that one of the states banning powdered alcohol is Massachusetts. In a press release, the Massachusetts Alcohol Beverages Control Commission said that Massachusetts General Law prohibits the sale, manufacturing, and importation of powdered alcohol. The release also expressed concern that the flavors powdered alcohol comes in could be especially appealing to teens.

“The sale of powdered alcohol is prohibited in Massachusetts, and for good reason,” said Treasurer Goldberg. “Our first priority is to protect the health and safety of our residents, especially children.”

Mark Phillips, the inventor of Palcohol, answered some of these concerns on the company’s website.

1. People will snort it and get drunk.
Not true. It’s painful to snort due to the alcohol. Second, it’s impractical. It takes approximately 60 minutes to snort the equivalent of one shot of vodka. Why would anyone do that when they can do a shot of liquid vodka in two seconds?

2. Powdered alcohol will make it easier to sneak into venues.
A package of Palcohol is 4″ x 6″….almost five times bigger than a 50ml bottle of liquid alcohol so Palcohol is much harder to conceal. Alcohol in any format is subject to abuse if someone is determined to do so. Nothing prevents a criminal bent on violating the law from pouring liquid alcohol from its original package into a water bottle, a lunchbox thermos, a hip flask, etc. for surreptitious consumption.

3. It will be easier to spike a drink.
Not true. Palcohol does not dissolve instantly in liquid and would take over a minute of stirring to dissolve the equivalent of one shot of alcohol into a drink when one can spike a drink with liquid alcohol in about three seconds. Please view the video for a demonstration.

4. Kids will get a hold of it easier.
Not true. Palcohol is sold wherever liquid alcohol is sold and the same rules apply, you must be 21 years or older to buy it.

While the logic behind #2 seems a little suspect (powder would definitely be easier to sneak into a venue than liquid) for now, it seems like the sale of Palcohol will go forward. According to their website, you’ll be able to buy rum, vodka, and mixes for cosmopolitans and margaritas.

palcohol logos

Though there may be an initial spate of idiotic accidents related to Palcohol, these types of things are inevitable when alcohol is involved. Nobody proposed banning liquid alcohol when butt chugging briefly became a thing, and to punish powdered alcohol would be a double standard that likely wouldn’t stand up in court.