The US government has given approval for the production and sale of "Palcohol" – alcohol in powdered form that can be stirred into beverages. Seven flavours have so far been announced, including Margarita and Cosmopolitan. Palcohol has been approved by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) and is expected to go on sale in the autumn.
Legal experts point out that alcohol in powder form already exists in countries like Germany and Japan and that patenting and marketing Palcohol will be fraught with problems.
Specialist alcohol licensing firm Lehrman Beverage Law, PLLC, which produces a "bevlog" about alcohol products, says: "I am not astonished that this is a real product — but I am absolutely astonished that this is approved. TTB approved seven versions of this powdered alcohol within the past few days. The person that pushed this through must be very patient or lucky and/or good. The product seems highly likely to raise a large number of legal issues and controversies."
Critics believe the product will be seized on by young people and alcoholics who wish to hide their consumption of alcohol and by apparently encouraging customers to take the powder into sports stadiums and concerts there could be legal repercussions.
On its website, Palcohol warns against using the product before driving, to always use it responsibly, and provides this health warning: "We have seen comments about goofballs wanting to snort it. Don't do it! It is not a responsible or smart way to use the product. To take precautions against this action, we've added volume to the powder so it would take more than a half of a cup of powder to get the equivalent of one drink up your nose. You would feel all pain for little gain. Just use it the right way."
Additionally the company advises against using the product in cooking: "You're not adding flavour to the dish, just alcohol... add Palcohol after a dish is cooked as the alcohol will burn off if you cook with it".
So what IS "the right way" to use Palcohol? The company suggests adding it to water for an instant cocktail. Though James Bond would probably be unimpressed at the thought of a powdered vodka martini which was shaken – and then stirred.