Powdered Alcohol To Be Sold in U.S. This Fall

By Carl Engelking | April 21, 2014 2:36 pm


Update: If you were looking forward to enjoying Palcohol, a powdered alcohol product, this fall, you may need to wait a bit longer. The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau granted Palcohol “label approval” on April 8, but rescinded its approval April 21 after this article was published. A representative with the bureau told the Associated Press that the original approvals were issued in error. Palcohol’s parent company Lipsmark will need to resubmit its labels for approval. [This update was published at 9:20 a.m. April 22]

Instantly turning water into an alcoholic beverage is no longer a feat of biblical proportions. Come fall, it will be legal for Americans to purchase powdered alcohol, which can turn water into rum, vodka or a variety of cocktails.

The product, called Palcohol, is the brainchild of alcohol enthusiast Mark Phillips. He invented the potent powder because he wanted an easy, portable way to enjoy an adult beverage after a day of hiking, biking or kayaking. The federal government recently gave its stamp of approval for the sale and manufacture of the product, and it could be on the shelves of your local liquor store in the fall.

Pick Your Poison

Though its inventors are keeping Palcohol’s recipe a secret until they can patent it, other powdered alcohols have been made in the past. For instance, a team of students in the Netherlands created their own version of powdered alcohol a few years back, specifically marketed for teenagers.

The key to making alcohol powders are simple carbohydrates called cyclodextrins, which bind together to form donut-shaped structures. They can then absorb and encapsulate fluids, like alcohol, within their molecular “donut holes,” which allows the liquid to be handled as a water-soluble powder. Cyclodextrins are also used to dissolve insoluble medications, odor-fighting sprays, and reduced-fat foods.

In the case of Palcohol, each packet weighs about an ounce — enough for one shot — and can fit into a pocket. The creators plan to release six flavors of Palcohol when it debuts later this year. Those flavors include:

  • Premium, quadruple-distilled vodka;
  • Puerto Rican rum;
  • Cosmopolitan;
  • Mojito;
  • Powderita;
  • Lemon drop.

It’s too soon to tell if powdered alcohol will be the next big craze or whether it will have all the appeal of freeze-dried ice cream. But after centuries of drinking alcohol roughly the way our medieval predecessors did, a little innovation is no bad thing.


Photo credit: alexpro9500/Shutterstock

MORE ABOUT: alcohol, food science
  • Andy Ambrosius

    I’m not knocking it until I try it.

  • Lila Hw

    Oh great. So our awesome government gives this the ok, but I can’t grow a plant to smoke it, or injest it. Our society is fu*ked

    • Olivia

      That’s a completely different topic, alcohol is already legal. Get over it.

      • john doe

        No. It’s the same topic and Lila is correct.

        • Olivia

          I’m going to assume you’re being sarcastic. Marijuana enthusiasts have such tunnel vision when it comes to the issue. Not everything relates back to pot.

          • disqus_atlq8Zmtsd

            It is the same thing, more or less. They are both mind altering substances. They both have a long term negative impact on personal health. They are both made via natural processes.

            In fact, there is a strong argument to be made that alcohol is more of a societal evil than marijuana. Drunk driving is the cause of how many deaths each year? Alcohol is more likely to lead to addictive behavior.

            In short, alcohol is a drug. Why is one drug legal and the other not?

          • Bong The Ripper

            Next will be the alcohol pill. You watch, as the powder gets more potent it’ll find it’s way into a pill but hopefully by then alcohol will be on its way out. I don’t want to see a new era of alcohol addiction.

          • redROOR

            Xanax bro, it hits the same neurons as alcohol, so Ya hahaha

          • donl

            Not the same..sorry sport!

          • disqus_atlq8Zmtsd

            I just want to clarify that I’m not advocating the use of either drug. I’m just making the argument that they are substantially the same thing.

          • donl

            Marijuanna should not even be in the same discussion as alcohol,,and what each deoes healthwise..I’m all to familiar with what alcohol does I’m married to that problem..I’d rather she smoke pot..it causes no problems though one should be smart enough not to drive ..but otherwise you’re correct..I’d love to see alcohol back on prohibition!! but that’s just me..

  • Grumpy Jason

    You can in my state, Lila!

  • Bong The Ripper

    Remember this man’s name so down the line we know who to blame. Snorting, spiking and overdoses by kids, I hope your “hiking” dreams are worth it.

    • James Buchy

      I bet you blame Samuel Colt and Oliver Winchester for all firearm deaths.Do you blame James Bowie for knife deaths too?

      • Bong The Ripper

        Guns are necessary, powdered alcohol is not. Name one drunk driver who saved a life with that drunk driving then compare it with how many lives were saved with a gun. To even compare them is foolish but you actually use it as a defense and it is at best a parody.

        • john doe

          Guns are not necessary. Guns don’t save lives, they take them.

          • Raunak Sharma

            Guns dont kill people… people kill people

          • disqus_atlq8Zmtsd

            Dale Gribble from King of the Hill: “Guns don’t kill people… The government kills people.”

          • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com Michael Keener

            Quite correct, and Gun Control is not about guns.. it’s about Control….

          • Bong The Ripper

            What stopped the US mainland from invasion time and time again? Ask Japan, they’ll tell you. It took years before the Mexicans found a way around it and began flooding us.

          • James Buchy

            Japan never had any plans to invade the US. Remember, the occupying US Army has access to ALL Japanese records upon Japan’s surrender. An invasion from that distance was simply not feasible from a military standpoint.

            This often heard statement is a total lie repeated way too many times by people who should really know better – “Guns deterred Japan from invading the US in WW2”

            Let’s review :

            Like the Germans the Japanese had no long range heavy bombers

            By the end of the Battle of Midway the Japanese had no aircraft carriers either

            Then there is the matter of geography to contend with

            The island hopping campaign that US did in the western Pacific
            can’t done in the eastern Pacific because there are no close islands to

            It’s 2216 .7 nm from LAX to Honolulu and nothing but water in between.

          • Bong The Ripper

            Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto – “You cannot invade the mainland United States. There would be a rifle behind each blade of grass.”

          • James Buchy

            There is no record that he said anything of the sort. A waterborne invasion of such a vast territory over such a huge distance was physically impossible at that time. Even going in in the opposite direction the United States military was estimating casualties in the millions if mainland Japan was invaded since they knew that Japanese civilians were expected to defend themselves with just as much vigor.

          • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com Michael Keener

            you’re still a moron….after the bombing attack on Pearl Harbor, Yamamoto also said ” I fear we have awakened a sleeping giant “…

          • James Buchy

            Really? How does Yamamoto’s comment after Pearl Harbor make me a moron? His complete comment was “I fear we have awakened a sleeping giant and filled him with a terrible resolve.” Yamamoto was educated in the US at Harvard. He knew America and Americans very well.

          • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com Michael Keener

            gee thanks for the ‘review, but you are a moron… Yamamoto told his generals ” no, we will not invade the US because there is a gun behind every leaf ” read up DA….

          • James Buchy

            There is no record that he said anything of the sort. Yes I read up. You should try it some time.

          • Artor

            Huh? What invasions are you talking about?

          • Bong The Ripper

            Without the gun we’d never have gotten to the numbers we are today. Do I really have to list all the benefits here or will you delude yourself that there is no such thing as history? Why do you think so many swear by them?

          • facefault

            Without the gun we’d never have gotten to the numbers we are today.

            I’ll bite. Please explain how the existence of guns (rather than, say, agriculture) is what makes it possible to sustain 7 billion people.

            Why do you think so many swear by them?

            Because shooting is really fun. Duh.

          • Bong The Ripper

            Another deceived person… what IS a gun outside of the stigma you’ve been sold? I call them kinetic weapons and they fall under the same class as rocks, bow and arrow systems, boomerangs and even knives. Do we really have to go into this? Let’s pose a what if, the what if that would occur when you see guns for what they really are. What if we had no kinetic weaponry? Do you even realize the effect meat has had on our brains? Without kinetic weapons we’d have no meat, no meat means poor brain function and development. Keep in mind I’m going far back and the weapons of the time were rocks, knapped blades and spears. All kinetic weapons. That’s not even mentioning the use of kinetic weapons on plant life or the ground for that plant life to live. A gun is just one kinetic weapon out of endless other kinetic devices we’ve used to survive.

          • facefault

            You’re moving the goalposts from “guns got us to the numbers we are today” to “kinetic weapons got us to the numbers we have today.” I definitely agree with the latter. But you’re not providing evidence for the former.

          • Jeff

            Tell that to people in 3rd world countries that chop arms and legs off because they are from a different tribe. And totally ignore the fact that police and military use them to stop people from committing murder, or the most commonly used weapon to kill people. Knives. Remember 9/11? Box cutters not guns box cutters. Yet people say it’s all about an inanimate tool that is used in a malicious way…. Think about that. ?I know a guy that killed his wife with a plug and play cord from an xbox game console.

          • Guest

            Irrelevant. You’re arguing a random point that you’re making up in your head. Naming a short list of the seemingly endless ways people can die is a bullsht point.

          • Jeff

            Just check out world murder statistics and world history. So I guess you can solve the worlds problems by eliminating one type of inanimate object. Your argument proves nothing. So once all the guns are gone nobody will try to kill people. You are truly an absolute moron and wasting my time on a troll is futile.

          • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com Michael Keener

            you should report him to the police and stop playing with such mean people…..

          • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com Michael Keener

            tell that to every police force and SWAT Team in the entire country…. LMAO….

          • Artor

            Oh, you mean those guys that kill people with guns? Yeah, about that…

        • disqus_atlq8Zmtsd

          When people use a product illegally, is that an indictment of the intended use of the product? I have qualms about our alcohol culture in general (it impairs judgement, so how can you hold yourself to a standard of good decision making?), but to criticize someone for developing a new distribution method of a legal product seems pretty weird.

        • James Buchy

          The creator of a product/device is NOT responsible for its improper/illegal use and on THAT basis my comparison is 100% valid and that validity does not depend on your approval.

          • Bong The Ripper

            When the previous creator of powdered alcohol sets about targeting teens my approval will be used as a road block and your opinion is noted. In that note is a recognization that you like kids getting drunk. I suppose anthrax should be legal too. Clearly you are not thinking.

          • Bong The Ripper

            How hard do you think this will be to detect in candy and drinks? This is a non descript, white powder. I’m shocked that I even have to have this conversation. Is there a great inability to visualize here? With people like you James, the world is a terrible and stupid place.

          • James Buchy

            Really? Did you actually READ what you typed? Ever seen a nondescript clear liquid? Could be water, could be vodka. Powder is just another delivery method. Go back to gun makers and explain how they are exempt from blame but a liquor make isn’t. People are still murdered by guns. Any usefulness, real or imaginary, does not absolve them from blame IF we follow your pretzel logic.

          • Bong The Ripper

            Lol, a lot of schools don’t allow drinks in class still as a prevention against alcohol. Alcohol can be tasted and smelled in liquid form. Now, unless you plan for teachers to taste all food and drink I suggest you rethink your position.

    • Mykeljon

      Actually, when it becomes a new teen problem, I will blame the government for approving this product.

  • http://www.mazepath.com/uncleal/qz4.htm Uncle Al

    Cyclodextrin Technology Jozsef. Szejtli, ISBN 90-277-2314-1 (1988), Chapter 1.
    Pharmaceutical Research 8(1) 9 (1991)

    Naked cyclodextrins are nephrotoxic for crystallizing upon kidney concentration, possibly as the cholesterol inclusion complex. Mixed hydroxypropylated cyclodextrins are less toxic.

    Cf: Lover Come Back (1961)

  • Jacob

    I think this man had a cool idea and used science to create something that now hopefully he can make a profit with. There really is no better outcome for a chemist than to create something that can bring a smile to the general population…. And I’m excited to see some adult cool aide packets.

  • MyThoughts

    Hey Bong the Ripper:
    We could blame the inventors of any substance/object for their misuse, OR we could bring up kids in a society that helps everyone to evaluate risk and make good choices – including the understanding that snorting anything up one’s nose is probably not a good choice. Bubble-wrapping kids isn’t the answer either: teach them that there are consequences to every action, allow them to bump their knees and fall off a swing when they’re little, give them some clear and consistent boundaries but enough freedom to explore their world, help them make good choices… and they likely won’t snort powdered anything.

    • disqus_atlq8Zmtsd

      I thank you for pointing out the importance of personal accountability which gets swept under the rug.

    • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com Michael Keener

      yeah yeah yeah, once a ‘child becomes addicted to drugs they are no longer a child! they become an ‘addict… the child is gone until they get sober……at tremendous heartache and expense…..


    Stupid!! “Hey kids hand me my drink. No, not the kool-ade!” The Palcohol site also originally had warnings against sniffing the powder rendering one “instantly drunk”. Yeah, there’s no room for error here is there? I hope they get sued out of business.

    • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com Michael Keener

      gee, you must be a cocaine dealer, the ‘other white powder!

    • Artor

      “Warnings,” along with suggestions for adding it to breakfast meals.

  • Mike_Trail

    Would be absolutely perfect for backpacking, canoeing, camping, etc…If they only marketed it to outdoor companies, like REI and sold it like they do other gear, they would make huge profits. You would not believe what backpackers spend on freeze dried food. Freeze dried Vodka, after slogging all day down a hot dusty trail with an angry monkey on your back?? Where do I sign up? Wait, were stuck in our tent for three days while it pours down rain—Who’s got the Mojito mix….!!??
    Can’t wait.

    • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com Michael Keener

      right on!… 94 percent of the population are NOT alcoholics..

    • roobamc

      Its not freeze dried vodka, that would be everclear (i.e. alcohol with all the water removed). Also, vodka doesn’t go bad, there is no reason you need powdered alcohol for camping. You can just put vodka in any container and it will stay fine.

  • NewlandJ

    I wonder who’ll be the first idiot to die from snorting it

    • 18235

      maybe ozzy osbourne, since he has bragged about snorting a line of live ants during his booze/drug days.

  • sinnerG7

    I just watched Way Way Out and old movie w/Jerry Lewis and Connie Stevens they made instant Vodka in the movie just like this.#lifeimitatingart

  • Jon Maxwell W

    Well if this takes off, i guess I’ll be out of a bartending job.

    • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com Michael Keener

      well if having beer-wine-booze at home didn’t close all the bars I guess this powder sure will…..

  • 18235

    powdered booze still another rape drug?

    • http://blogs.discovermagazine.com Michael Keener

      yeah..try it out, if you are a rapist….

  • Lurch47

    Can you snort it?? =0)…..just wondering…….

  • SeeToSee

    Me, I’m just wondering about its uses in in the kitchen. like adding Puerto Rican rum powder to instant chocolate pudding, or lemon drop to no-bake cheesecake.

  • Ernie Sal

    some yo-yos will be shooting it fo’shizzle!

  • david stone

    The big drink suppliers might have something to say. They might but the patent and sit on it like someone did with the ball wheelbarrow


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