The Palcohol Controversy

Social media sites, local news stations, and even newspapers are buzzing about the federal approval of Palcohol, a brand of alcoholic powders. Many comments and concerns are with the products’ possible misuse. In fact, states such as Tennessee, are already trying to ban the product before it even becomes available Summer 2015. States like, Alaska, Delaware, Louisiana, South Carolina and Vermont, have already banned the product.

When I was in Culinary School, the Dean of my department once said, “Fine Dining should be indulged in moderation, much like a good drink.” I’ve never forgotten that. Chefs work very hard to make fine dining experiences especially pleasing from the atmosphere of the restaurant down to the rich flavor of each menu item. When you eat our food, we want you to feel something. With the news of powdered alcohol, Palcohol, I was excited. How often do we use beer, wine, and spirits to flavor a dish knowing the alcohol is promptly cooked out? What if we could include alcohol to make fine dining a more pleasurable experience?  Keep in mind, however, Palcohol does not add flavor to food. It only adds alcohol. According to the Palcohol website, an ice cream manufacturer is interested in their product so they can produce an “adult” version of the nostalgic treat. This makes sense considering The Tin Cow, a restaurant in Pensacola, FL known for their burgers and spiked milkshakes, has become quite popular. Personally, I would like to see the product used in other desserts and perhaps in some specialty main dishes. Culinarians love food and who needs a night cap when the possibilities for pleasureable food items is endless. Just think about your Boeuf Bourguignon getting a lot better. Remember most fine dining experiences restrict children, so this is strictly for adult consumption. You even have to be 21 and up to buy it.

If Palcohol doesn’t add flavor to food, how will you know its in your menu item? Of course, it would be listed in the description of the menu item, much like alcohol is today. It would also have to be thoroughly mixed into a sauce, the dish itself, etc. The package of Palcohol is  4″ x 6,” has a 2 inch gusset, and looks much like a “Capri Sun.” It contains quite a bit of powder (as you can see in this video). If you want more flavor, it must be added to water. Adding it to cold water will only make the solution take longer to mix, so putting it into someone’s drink is a no go. As for snorting the product, think again! Similar to it’s liquid cousin, Palcohol burns. There is no sense in suffering for something already more readily available in liquid form. Also, professional chefs use Nitrous Oxide in making whipped cream, for example, among other things. It can be misused also, but is marketed for its intended use. Palcohol should be just as marketable.

The original purpose of Palcohol, according to it’s creator Mark Phillips, was to make his 4588ebfea11fb11b56c061b7fa301e5afavorite drink more portable for hiking, camping, and mountain climbing since he enjoys one once he reaches his destination. He explains, “Carrying liquid alcohol, and mixers, and bottles, to make a Margarita, for instance, was totally impractical.” Palcohol can be mixed with water to create your favorite drink, or at least one of the four approved, Vodka (V), Rum (R), Cosmopolitan, and Powderita (Margarita). The packaging is perfect for the end of a day in the outdoors because it is lightweight. It wouldn’t be wise to mix Palcohol with your water supply, so Mr. Phillips made the packaging to be your cup. Simply pour 5-6 ounces of water into the Palcohol, seal, shake and enjoy. If you cannot finish your drink and want to save it for later, simply seal it like a Ziploc bag and save it for later.

The idea of Palcohol, powdered alcohol can be a good one. Mr. Phillips’ inventive creation could lead to a more enjoyable fine dining experience, seems somewhat safer than liquid alcohol, and can easily be packed for the outdoors. My hope is that this article will give you a fresh, new, more positive perspective on Palcohol. Please remember it’s intended use is for adults only. Crime does happen, but luckily, the chemistry and wise packaging choice help deter most misuse.



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