If you’re sick of trying one of the hundreds of different beers or cocktails available at any bar, and have long-wished for something more like Metamucil, you’re in luck. The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau just gave the go ahead to “Palcohol,” powdered alcohol that can be mixed into drinks to give just about any beverage an extra kick. The product has had a windy road to getting the government’s blessing, but it still faces several challenges from states that hope to keep it from being sold within their borders.
According to the Associated Press, Palcohol’s founder, Mark Philips, originally invented the substance to be able to enjoy an alcoholic beverage after hiking or doing other activities, all without having to carry bottles or cans around. For regulators, the main concern was that minors would abuse it — assuming that they would ultimately be able to get their hands on it — and that people would try to snort it, or sneak it into events, like sports games.
“The TTB approved Palcohol on March 10, 2015 and it is now legal to be sold in the United States. We will be working on getting the production facility up and running. It will take a while but hopefully it will be available this summer,” a message on the Palcohol website says, before firing away at regulators for protecting the concerns of established liquor dynasties.
“The liquor companies have lots of money to lobby for what they want and we are no match for their deep pockets. But should big money be allowed to make the laws?” The company writes. “If you want to try Palcohol, you need to contact your legislators to tell them you don’t need the government to be our nanny.”
But that, right there, is the real issue at hand: Will people be willing to pay for it?
Powdered alcohol, while a different and innovative take on a long-established product, may not sound like the most appealing product to many consumers. USA Today calls it “the Tang of alcohol” in their explanation of the situation, and that seems to be a very adept description. Basically, powdered alcohol works in exactly the same way — dump the contents of the pouch into water, give it a stir, and enjoy. Sounds good, right?
Maybe. It’s hard to judge until you’ve actually had the chance to try it. But despite the fact that Palcohol’s founder seems convinced that the government has tried to block sale of his product because of the interests of entrenched alcohol companies (which may or may not be true), those companies have been around for so long, and have grown so large for a reason: people love their products. It’s hard to think that herds of drinkers will suddenly abandon their favorite drinks for a powdered alternative.
Does that mean that Palcohol could become relegated to sort of secondary-status, used primarily by teenagers for cheap thrills, or college students experimenting with the market’s “new thing”? Possibly, but we shouldn’t dismiss the potential for Palcohol right off the bat. After all, it could have other potential uses, like as an anti-septic in emergency situations. It could also be a hit with people who intend to use it just like the company’s founder — as an easy-to-transport alternative, used in lieu of hauling bottles or cans around. Right now, we really can’t say what will happen.
But for those who simply can’t wait to give it a shot, Palcohol is scheduled to hit stores this summer, as the company’s website points out. It will be available in margarita, vodka, rum, and cosmopolitan flavors, and a lemon drop version is also in the works.