In a world where the line between science and food becomes finer and finer – from highly processed convenience food to high-end molecular gastronomy – the advent of portable powdered alcohol was only a matter of time.
But could such a product actually be approved by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau?
The answer is, “Yes; Oh wait, oops, no.”
Earlier this month the federal agency that oversees the legality of such things approved a new product called Palcohol. The brainstorm of inventor Mark Phillips, the dehydrated spirits were created to provide an easy and light way to carry booze for hiking and kayaking (and obviously, the possibilities for stealthy sipping extend beyond wholesome outdoor excursions). The idea is as simple as Kool-Aid; open a packet of vodka or rum, sprinkle into a mixer, and voila: insta-cocktail. Depending on the ratio of liquid used, the product supplies an alcohol concentration similar to that of regular vodka or rum.
But not so fast. Tom Hogue, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau’s agency's director of congressional and public affairs, said in an email that the agency approved Palcohol "in error.” The agency has not given any further details.
Lipsmark LLC, the company that makes Palcohol, said there seemed to be a discrepancy about how much powder is in the packets.
The product website says company officials plan to offer six varieties of the dried libations, including vodka, rum and four additional flavors: Cosmopolitan, Mojito, Powderita and Lemon Drop. They note that the packets weigh about an ounce and are conveniently portable; they also warn that the product should not be ... snorted.
So will on-the-spot quaffs worthy of George Jetson be approved anytime soon? Lawyers at Lehrman Beverage Law are skeptical, reports NPR.
"I am not astonished that this is a real product, but I am absolutely astonished that this is approved. The product seems highly likely to raise a large number of legal issues and controversies," said a lawyer from the group before the approval was reversed.
"Palcohol company had better get some really, really good liability insurance," the lawyer added.
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