Palcohol: Just add water (Coffee, tea, juice, now alcohol)
After a long, exhausting day on the hiking trail, you and a few friends decide to celebrate over a drink at the summit. However, there is one slight problem, the nearest convenience store is 25 miles away and large, bulky bottles were too heavy to bring in your hiking bag. This scenario prompted the development of “Palcohol” or powdered alcohol. That’s right. Sort of like Crystal Light – but a cocktail.
Palcohol is a gluten free, alcohol-based drink powder coupled with natural flavorings and sweetener. It will be sold in five variants (flavors): V (vodka), R (rum), cosmopolitan, powderita (margarita), and lemon drop. Mix a package of Palcohol in water and you’ll make one standard alcoholic drink.
Don’t go running to your nearest store for it though, Palcohol will not be there. Its producers are hoping to make it available sometime this summer. But even when it hits the shelves, it won’t be available everywhere.
The launch of Palcohol has hit some snags. It was approved for sale in 2014 by the U.S. Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) but was recanted several weeks later due to a labeling issue. The TTB re-approved Palcohol this March, making it legal to sell and consume.
State legislatures quickly voiced concerns about Palcohol including the potential for overuse, improper use (snorting, use as a food additive, mixing with drugs), the creation of extremely potent drinks and accessibility to minors. Another concern for states is the ability to easily transport, conceal and store Palcohol, serving as another heightened risk for youth.
To date, 20 states (Alabama, Alaska, Connecticut, Georgia, Kansas, Indiana, Louisiana, Maine, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia and Washington) have banned Palcohol. Two states (Maryland and Minnesota) have temporary one-year statutory bans. Four states (Colorado, Delaware, Michigan and New Mexico) already include Palcohol in their statutory definitions of alcohol so that the product will continue to be regulated under their existing alcohol statues and policies. As of July 2015, 40 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have introduced legislation in their respective legislatures with regard to Palcohol.
On a federal level, Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) has introduced legislation to make all aspects of powdered alcohol illegal, including the production, sale and possession.
The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility (Responsibility.org) has spent more than two decades educating the public about responsible alcohol consumption. These education efforts are rooted in scientific evidence and research. Yet there is no evidence or research on Palcohol. Responsibility.org has concerns with respect to the potential misuse of Palcohol, particularly among youth and the product’s potential effect on underage drinking.
What do you think? Are you concerned about Palcohol? How do you think it would fare on “Shark Tank?” Would you drink it?
Austin Rodriquez is an Associate in the Government Relations and Traffic Safety department and a native of the Washington-Metropolitan Area. Relationships – both professional and personal – are a top priority for him.