In the Mix: Powdered Alcohol Gets Federal A-OK


Sports fans who’d like to have a drink while at the big game… (Photo:


…will be happy to hear about the approval of powdered alcohol.  (Photo:

Cargo pants and shorts are probably coming back into style because of an announcement this week by the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (the “TTB“).

To the delight of sports fans (and college kids and frequent fliers and a whole lot of other people) everywhere who are tired of paying $12 for warm water disguised as beer, the TTB has given the federal green light to powdered alcohol. With any luck, 4″ x 6” fully alcoholic powdered margarita mix packets (a slam dunk for cargo shorts) should be here well ahead of preseason football (and flights to summer vacation destinations). According to the Wall Street Journal:

The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau on Tuesday approved labels for a powdered alcohol called Palcohol. Arizona-based Lipsmark LLC, the maker of a booze powder that can be mixed with water like instant tea or lemonade, hopes to begin selling the product soon.

Four Loko went on sale in the US in 2005 and was in trouble about four years later. Having ironed out the kinks on that campaign, New York Senator Chuck Schumer didn’t dillydally with Palcohol: A bill in the Senate was referred to committee back in November, before this product even got approved, to ban it nationwide before it becomes a staple of college fraternity life.   

This week’s announcement follows one last summer from the FDA, in which the agency said it didn’t find a problem with the product’s ingredients and didn’t have a legal basis on which to block it.

Consumers will get a few options:

Lipsmark says Palcohol will come in several varieties—a vodka and a rum, and in three cocktails—Cosmopolitan, Lemon Drop and Powderita, which is designed to taste like a margarita. It has shown the powder in foil pouches that hold the equivalent of one shot of alcohol and can take six ounces of liquid.

Before tipplers get too excited if they manage to avoid Schumer’s wrath, they should keep in mind that individual states can ban powdered alcohol despite federal acceptance of the product. For example, South Carolina, Louisiana and Vermont have already passed laws banning it.

An internet search for Lipsmark LLC leads to this site: Lipsmark CEO Mark Phillips is the author of Swallow This: The Progressive Approach to Wine, a book that gets 5-stars from 14 of 16 Amazon reviewers, although there’s a decent chance that all 14 raves were written by the author and his friends. Phillips has apparently been dismissive of criticism that the product is ripe for abuse by teens and people stupid enough to try snorting powdered alcohol (this site suggests each packet’s mixed drink will actually be pretty weak). He said that he invented the product because he wanted a way to enjoy alcoholic drinks after hiking or other activities without having to lug around heavy bottles. That sounds like a bit of a stretch. He no doubt invented it for the same reason he once owned a limo company: He thinks it will make money. And unless it gets outlawed, he’s probably right.


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