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Monday, April 21, 2014

This Week in Terrible Ideas: Powdered Alcohol

Posted By on Mon, Apr 21, 2014 at 4:00 PM

click to enlarge palcohol.jpg

You can never tell these days what's true and what's false on the Internet, but the world is also a confusing and often idiotic place -- which means there's a whole new category of things that you really hope are fake but are scared they might not be. Like powdered alcohol, a real product that was briefly approved by the feds before they reversed their decision on it.

As the story on the product's website now goes, founder Mark Phillips wanted some booze while on a backpacking trip and hit on the idea of making a lightweight alcohol powder that could be added to water. Then he set forth making it a reality. Thus the inadvisably named Palcohol powdered alcohol was born.

Palcohol was initially approved by the U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau last week, but the group said Monday that it had made a mistake on its decision to approve the product's six "flavors," all with the equivalent of a shot of alcohol. V is made from vodka, R is made from rum. You add them to mixers to make your favorite drinks. Then there are cocktail versions -- a cosmo, mojito, "powderita," and lemon drop that you can add to water to make insta-cocktails.

Do we really need to enumerate the reasons why flavorless powdered alcohol is a terrible idea? That a drink's potency could be doubled or tripled or quadruped when one's back was turned, with no visible effects? That teens and other idiots will undoubtedly try to snort it, despite the warning on the website (which previously encouraged snorting, in a racy earlier version of the site that's since been scrubbed), or mix it with food, or hasten the path to alcohol poisoning by adding several packets to one drink?

Call us old-fashioned, but for smuggling booze into places it's not supposed to be (sporting events, movie theaters, and other situations where this product seems made for), we prefer a nice metal flask. It's time-tested, it's discrete, and best of all, it can be filled with a nice drink of your choice instead of a gritty, watery "cocktail" that in all likelihood tastes like a worse version of Crystal Light.

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About The Author

Anna Roth

Anna Roth

Anna Roth is SF Weekly's former Food & Drink Editor and author of West Coast Road Eats: The Best Road Food From San Diego to the Canadian Border.


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