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Powder keg
April 25, 2014, 05:00 AM By Michelle Durand Daily Journal

The idea was something worth raising a glass. Like a gift from the gin-soaked gods of invention who understand that humans are never happy unless we’re making things better, bigger, stronger or just different, behold Palcohol.

That’s right, Palcohol. Powdered alcohol. The name says it all. Take freeze-dried alcohol, add liquid and party on. Think of it like Tang for adults.

The goodie comes in several variations: plain vodka or rum or cocktail versions including cosmopolitan, mojito, margarita and lemon drop.

It might not quite be the same as turning water into wine but let’s not be picky when it come to possibly genius ideas.

The first possibility that undoubtedly springs to mind is sneaking the powder packets into teetotalling events — no more boring dry weddings! — and any place where single drink prices are higher than the cost of a pony keg. Unless the security forces were trained by the ultra-touchy Transportation Security Administration or venues take a page from the plastic-bag-only rules of the National Football League, chances are pretty good a person can strap a package or two or 10 to one’s leg under some baggy pants. Consider the bar open.

Of course, considering the price tag on basic water at most entertainment events, imbibers would be better off buying liquor there and saving the powered stuff for other needs. Maybe, say, Jell-O shots. Think of the super potency of powder on powder on water. Same goes for Crystal Light and all those other water flavoring powders and potions clogging the market.

Then take it one step further. Reduce the water, make a syrup and dish up snow cones. Pour it into cake mix. Why should pudding have all the fun? Maybe even bolster a brew, sort of like any manner of bomb shot.

Or, sell it to the military as an addition to its tasty Meals Ready-to-Eat. Freeze-dried beef in one packet. Freeze-dried cocktail in the other. Maybe an e-cigarette after just to round out the experience.

Alas, though. Just when the mind ran amok and the liver pulled on its big boy pants, the Food and Drug Administration proved a buzz kill. The FDA announced that the previously publicized label approval of this wonder powder was in error. Wait, what?

The company said on its website there was discrepancy on how much powder is in the bags and that new labels will be submitted. Whew. Maybe we won’t have to drown our sorrows the old-fashioned way after all.

Then again, perhaps this intermission is a good chance to cleanse the mental palate and really think about if powdered alcohol is the best idea after all. Mainly, the worry is that people will do what they always do after they make something better, bigger, stronger or different — they try to intensify and speed up the effect. For this product, these mental giants will turn to snorting the powder like it’s some sort of other recreational powder. Shooting milk out one’s nose never feels great; can powdered vodka or rum be much better?

And pulling out powder rather than a bottle takes a little of the pageantry out of the flirty bar scene. Can I buy you a package doesn’t have quite the same ring. Same goes for, “What’s in your package?” although that may lead to an entirely different conversation.

What happens when a parent accidentally grabs the Palcohol packet rather than the Kool-Aid? Maybe those neighborhood lemonade and punch stands can actually turn a profit.

Freeze-dried alcohol might one day be somebody’s flugelbinder but for now there’s no telling when it might hit shelves. At least while it takes a powder, we can decide whether to give it a shot.

Michelle Durand’s column “Off the Beat” runs every Tuesday and Thursday. She can be reached by email: or by phone (650) 344-5200 ext. 102. What do you think of this column? Send a letter to the editor:



Tags: powder, maybe, water, alcohol, freeze, think,

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