Some people travel California desert Highway 62 by Greyhound Bus. Some people, on horseback. And some people, like us, get there in a rented burgundy Chrysler, Willie’s Roadhouse on the radio and cactus water rolling around the floorboards.
The last time Gram Parsons, aka Flying Burrito Brother aka Byrdman Junior aka the reigning champ of Cosmic Americana and probably the spirit behind The Rolling Stones’ toe dip in honky-tonk, drove the 62 he was in a wooden box in a broken-windowed hearse, his body stolen an hour earlier from Los Angeles International Airport.
Powdered Alcohol Got Me Drunk the Worst Way Possible
Editor’s note: Please don’t try any of this at home. You could get hurt and anyway, it’s a really complicated way to get hammered. Just sip on a martini or shotgun yourself a nice beer.
Last month the idea of powdered alcohol took the internet by storm when a website appeared for a product called Palcohol. “Sometimes liquid isn’t convenient," read the site’s original copy. "Because Palcohol is powder, you can take it just about anywhere to enjoy a cocktail! That’s why we say: Take your Pal wherever you go!"
The future of drinking was here—then, suddenly, it wasn’t. After the initial flurry of "LOL powdered alcohol!” articles came the “Say NO to powdered alcohol!" articles, and the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau—which originally approved seven Palcohol flavors—rescinded their approval. (They said it had been approved in "error,” which may be code for, “We didn’t realize it would make people so upset.”) And New York Senator Chuck Schumer is calling for the FDA to block Palcohol once and for all.
But Lipsmack, the company behind Palcohol, thinks the powder is revolutionary and appears ready to fight back, releasing a YouTube video titled “The Truth About Palcohol” and redesigning their website to emphasize the product’s “many positive” uses, not just the getting-fucked-up-on-the-road aspect of it.
Palcohol, the company says, will save space in your pack when you want to hike up a mountain and kick back, and it’ll even shave some dollars off your next flight—since Palcohol weighs less than liquid booze, airlines can save fuel if they start stocking drink carts with the powdered stuff. Just add water, and your powdered martini is ready to drink. The future of America is drunken campers and cheap flights and powdered booze for all.
OK, sure. But I don’t own an airline and I won’t be hiking up any fucking mountains anytime soon. When I hear that Schumer is worried about powdered alcohol being “sprinkled on food and even snorted,” I’m like, “Oh, good idea, Chuck!”
With Palcohol still a long way from the production line, I had to take matters into my own hands. Popular Science posted a recipe for powdered alcohol on their site, so I started gathering ingredients.
The two key components in powdered alcohol—powder and alcohol—were pretty easy to find. The recipe called for N-Zorbit M, a.k.a. Maltodextrin, a powder that is great for absorbing oils. It seems like the kind of thing fancy chefs might use on a cooking show if they want to sprinkle a pinch of powdered watermelon juice onto a tart. But it can also apparently work with liquor—all I’d need to do, according to the recipe, was pour some booze into N-Zorbit M and stir it in.
Simple enough, but I didn’t want to make wimpy powdered booze like Palcohol, which you need half a pouch of to make a single drink. I wanted something strong.
Everclear is legal in the state of New York (Chuck Schumer hasn’t asked the FDA to ban it, yet) so I picked up a fifth of 192-proof Spirytus Wesoly grain alcohol. With 100 grams of N-Zorbit M under one arm and a fifth of hooch cradled in the other, I raided the VICE kitchen for everything else I’d need: a mixing bowl, a fine mesh sieve, a whisk, and a big Tupperware container so I could take the stuff on the road. Then I set up shop at VICE’s newly-installed wet bar and got to work.
Connor’s dad kicks him out just days before Christmas when Connor comes out. With nowhere to go and not wanting to spend Christmas alone, Connor turns to his roommate Jude, even though he doesn’t know Jude all that well. What will Jude say?
Pete Kleinow, Chris Ethridge, Parsons and Hillman of The Flying
Burrito Brothers in their Nudie suits as they pose with two female fans
in front of a Joshua tree, Joshua Tree, California, 1969 by Michael Ochs