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Powdered Alcohol is Legal Again

The “Kool Aid for underage drinking” is back, and state lawmakes are scared.

Image courtesy of Palcohol

Good news, everyone. Powdered booze, the future Country Time Lemonade for jittery drunks, is back on the party supply shopping list. After a product called Palcohol—a dusty, 50-percent-alcohol substance one can mix into liquids—was approved for sale in the United States last year, it was quickly banned again almost immediately. At the time, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau withdrew its ok, claiming it had issued it in error, over a supposed labeling discrepancy. But now Palcohol is back, baby. After an FDA safety study could find no legal cause to block it, four varieties of the stuff have been reapproved for sale in the states, and it could hit shelves as soon as this summer.


According to an AP report, Palcohol founder Mark Phillips first dreamed up a powdered alcohol product as “a way to enjoy alcoholic drinks after hiking or other activities without having to lug around heavy bottles.” The powder, which the Wall Street Journal pictures as being “mixed with water like instant tea” (so civilized!), will be made by an Arizona company called Lipsmark, LLC, which is currently trying to patent the formulation. Sold in little foil pouches into which water, or other liquids can directly be poured, drinking Palcohol requires no cups or glasses—making it perfect for hobos, long-distance runners, and those who, like me, have recently relocated and have not yet purchased dishes. The WSJ reports:

Lipsmark says Palcohol will come in several varieties—a vodka and a rum, and in three cocktails—Cosmopolitan, Lemon Drop, and Powderita, which is designed to taste like a margarita. It has shown the powder in foil pouches that hold the equivalent of one shot of alcohol and can take six ounces of liquid.

However, just because Palcohol is now legal to sell doesn’t mean you’ll be seeing it at your local retailer anytime soon. Following its original approval, the clucking scolds of America’s no-fun brigade leapt into action, citing the products potential for abuse, and fear of teen yahoos wildly snorting lines of Palcohol off each other’s genitals. Sure that the powdery vice would soon become the next butt-chugging craze, stern authority figures like New York Senator Chuck Schumer, who called Palcohol a “Kool Aid for underage drinking,” have made it their business to bar the product again. And while the federal government has given its reluctant nod, individual states still control a lot of the laws around the sale of alcohol, with several states already started working on their own bans. According to the WSJ:

South Carolina, Louisiana and Vermont last year passed laws banning powdered alcohol. Several states are weighing similar legislation now, including Mississippi, Virginia, Ohio, Colorado, North Dakota, New York, New Jersey, and Washington. The product would need to get approval from state alcohol boards to be sold in 17 beverage control states such as Oregon and Virginia. Pennsylvania already issued a ruling saying it couldn’t be sold by its control board, according to the National Alcohol Beverage Control Association.

Which of course, if history teaches us anything, will just mean Palcohol speakeasies.