By Frank Ariveso

Palcohol is simply alcohol in powdered form that needs 6 ounces of water, juice or soda to create a spiked cocktail. 

Mark Phillips, a man who enjoys hiking, biking, camping, kayaking, etc., thought it would be great to have alcohol in powder form, so all that anyone had to do was add water to the powder, and voilà they’d have themselves a cocktail! A lot of activities don’t allow for lugging heavy bottles of liquor, but with most all of those activities, you need to carry water to drink to hydrate yourself. Mark enjoyed relaxing and enjoying an adult beverage after his activities—which oftentimes brought him to remote areas where there simply were no bars to be found. He thought: ‘If only there was a way to make alcohol into a powdered form…’ others, too, could enjoy the light pack of a powdered version that would be so easy to carry and then add water… and drink away.

Unfortunately, there was nothing like that on the market, so he sought out scientists from around the world and told them about his idea. After years of trial and error, he finally came up with his creation and called it: Palcohol. Palcohol is a powdered version of vodka, rum and also three different cocktails. One package weighs about one ounce and when you add 5-6 ounces of water to it, it is equal to a standard mixed drink, or the equivalent to one shot of liquid alcohol. 

Palcohol is currently available in vodka and rum. Look for “V” on the premium vodka package that is distilled four times. Add 6 ounces of water to the powder and you have straight vodka. Use orange juice instead and you have a Vodka and Orange Juice. Look for the “R” for their premium Puerto Rican rum. Add 6 ounces of water, or try a cola for a perfect Rum and Coke. Palcohol also comes in pre-blended favorite cocktails: Cosmopolitan and Powderita (aka Margarita). Just add water and you have an instant tasty cocktail. When I first began to research this product, the company’s site offered a Lemon Drop Palcohol as well. Today, I found the Lemon Drop Palcohol had been pulled from their site, of which the reason is unknown, as we go to print. 

Palcohol will be sold anywhere where liquor is sold and you must be of legal drinking age to purchase it. The company expects it to be available sometime this summer, 2015. 

“I designed the bag to become the glass. It is designed with a gusset in the bottom of the bag, so it can stand up, and you can drink right out of the bag and then set it down, and it won’t fall over.” (Think Capri Sun’s.)

Palcohol is gluten-free and the powder itself has about 80 calories per bag. The ingredients of each version are listed on the front of the package. The cocktail versions have natural flavorings and Sucralose as a sweetener. 

Ready for a drink? Open the bag and pour 5-6 ounces of water or liquid mixer into the bag. Zip the bag tightly shut and then shake for 30 seconds or more for the powder to dissolve. The colder the water, the longer it takes for the powder to dissolve. Unzip the bag and enjoy. You can add a straw or even ice cubes to the bag if you’re not in a remote area. If you want to save some for later, zip the bag closed again and save. 

Phillips is not the first to have thought of turning alcohol into powder. Dating back to the 1970’s, powdered alcohol has been produced by different manufacturers in Europe, Japan, and even patents have been issued in the U.S., but the products have always been met with aversion.

Despite Palcohol’s scrutiny, the U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau approved Palcohol on March 10, 2015, making it now legal to be sold in the United States. However, it is still subject to state regulation. Several states, including Alaska, Ohio, Louisiana, South Carolina, Vermont and Virginia want to prohibit the sale of powdered alcohol.

Critics are worried, and since there are a lot of untruths about Palcohol being circulated, it’s no wonder they are scared. A main reason for concern is keeping it out of the hands of underage young people. A ban on Palcohol would mean the government would have no control over its distribution. Palcohol needs to be regulated to keep it as hard to obtain for minors as alcohol is. The product was designed for adults. 

Months ago, I had heard concerns about Palcohol on an ABC news program. The news chief health and medical editor said: “As a parent, it’s one thing to patrol for cases of beer or bottles of booze, but having to look for little packets, I worry that it could lead to more underage drinking, making it easier.” 

So Mark Phillips, owner and creator of Palcohol, decided to clear up a few of the inaccurate statements and misconceptions floating around out there.

• 1 package of Palcohol = 1 shot of liquid alcohol. 

• The product comes in a 4x6-inch bag. Not tiny little packages.


Q: What about snorting it to get drunk quickly?
PHILLIPS: Snorting Palcohol is very painful. It burns. It hurts. It would take about an hour to snort a 1-shot equivalent of alcohol. Why would anyone spend an hour of pain and misery to get 1 drink when they could just drink 1 shot in 2 seconds and accomplish the same thing?

Q: It would be easier to sneak into a movie theater or stadium event, wouldn’t it?
PHILLIPS: The bag is 4” x 6”. You could sneak in 4 small bottles of liquid alcohol in the same space as 1 bag of Palcohol. Plus, the bag is generally too big to conceal. 

Q: It might be easier for underage kids to get their hands on.
PHILLIPS: It will be sold in the same licensed establishments that sell liquid alcohol. You will need to be of legal drinking age to purchase it. Palcohol costs four times more than liquid alcohol, and one can’t drink it straight like liquid alcohol. 

Q: What about sprinkling it on food to get someone else drunk without their knowing?
PHILLIPS: It can be sprinkled on food, but it would be noticeable, and it wouldn’t make anyone drunk. It’s unlikely that a person could consume enough food/powder to even equal one drink.

Q: What about it being used as a way to spike someone’s drink without their knowing?
PHILLIPS: Not true. It’s slightly clumpy and when dumped in water or a drink, it doesn’t immediately dissolve. It would take over a minute to try to get 1 shot’s worth of Palcohol to dissolve and then there still might be traces. Liquid alcohol dissolves 30 times faster when poured into another drink.

Palcohol and its possible illicit and underage use is still in question for many Americans, but who Palcohol seems to be ideal for are the outdoor enthusiasts. Carrying moderate quantities of Palcohol are a fraction of the weight and bulk associated with traditional liquid alcohol.

Airlines are considering Palcohol versus liquid alcohol, because it would save millions on fuel costs. A hotel in Hawaii is interested in the product, because the shipping costs for liquid alcohol from the mainland are so high.

There is also an Industrial Formulation (non-ingestible) that is being considered for very different applications. Medical personnel might use it for an antiseptic in remote locations. A company with locations in Sweden and Canada is inquiring about using it in their windshield wiper fluid. It is also being considered as a form of powering a camping stove and for military applications from transport fuel to fuel in a soldier’s backpack.

These uses seem reasonable, and if treated like an adult beverage, and not Kool-Aid, as some critics have called it, the future will tell if it’s a good idea or not. The voice of reason seems to come from Dr. Ryan Stanton, an emergency physician and spokesman for the American College of Emergency Physicians. “Although powdered alcohol has been sold outside the United States, I had not seen evidence that it had been abused or that it was more dangerous than regular alcohol. I do believe alcohol, no matter which way it’s delivered, is still a big health and safety risk in the United States,” he said. “I’ll be interested to see what people do to make this dangerous. Because I’m sure somebody will figure out a way to make this dangerous.”

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