This Just Isn’t a Good Idea

Powdered-Smirnoff
This comes under the category of Bad Ideas From Science We Really Could Have Done Without, like weaponized anthrax, human cloning, and those little microphone headsets that let Madonna and Britney Spears perform. Russian scientists (who else?) have allegedly perfected a method for turning alcohol into a powder.
No. Just, no.
I just can’t stop thinking of ways for this product to be used for ill, and I haven’t really come up with a good use for it yet. Simply put, speed is the enemy of responsible alcohol use. Yes, the world already has shots, chugging, and the simple directive that “a cocktail should be drunk quickly, while it is still laughing”. But the idea that you could pop a couple of gelcaps and get drunk does not bear thinking on.
Now, be of good cheer. I don’t think that this is real.
First off, it comes from The Times of India (where I’ve encountered other less than credible articles), in an piece so badly written that I about pulled a muscle restraining myself from red-penning my own computer screen. The second and third paragraphs both have one or more sentences that repeat themselves verbatim.
Second, their source is “a web portal”, presumably from Russia. An unnamed Russian web portal? Dan Rather has higher standards of proof than that! Have you seen what passes for web journalism in Russia these days?
I unleashed my Google-fu on this. Why? Because I could.

You are drunk-blogging,
aren’t you?

No I am not.
Anyway, there is a St. Petersburg State Polytechnical University. On-line search function returns no faculty named Moskalev. There is a guy named Evgeny Moskalev from Russia who is on Facebook, who looks like the sort of joker who would perpetrate this sort of thing on the the poor Times of India, though.
For now, I’m going to file this threat to civilization under the heading of “Hoax”. Good on you Evgeny, if it is a hoax. and what the Hell have you done, if it isn’t.
By the way, I got this story from the HotAir Headlines, where AP finds this stuff for me, so I don’t have to, so that I can find it for you, so you don’t have to…

I’ve gotten a few good comments already, so more thoughts (and a layout-breaking video) below the fold…
Michael Dietsch, of a Dash of Bitters tipped me to this video of Jaime Boudreau, in which Jaime makes powdered Chartreuse for use in rimming glasses:

This is cool, and I’m going to try it with Cointreau. But it isn’t what I am talking about above. Jaime is clear that you need a flavorful and high-sugar liqueur for the trick. What you are doing is removing the alcohol (and any water) through evaporation. So the liqueur dust will have virtually no alcohol content at all!

About the author

Doug

I am 48 years old, married with two young daughters. My interests are tennis, reading, computers, politics, and of course cocktails. I run a murder mystery party business that caters to both corporate and private events, Killing Time, murder consultants.

5 Comments

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  • I respectfully disagree, Doug!

    While I think we can all agree to the importance of responsibility (and moderate pacing!) when imbibing, IF such a product can exist, it is yet another tool available to cocktailiers and mixologists.

    I do hope this (hypothetical product) doesn’t come to market in a gelcap or similar form like you’ve described, but more as a tool for those interested in solid / nontraditional cocktail presentations. You could eat your wine and drink your pasta! Novel and contrived? Assuredly. Revolution for the hell of it? Probably. But fun, interesting and exciting nonetheless!

    Gives the notion of “Beer-Battered Fish & Chips” a whole new meaning, methinks!

    Ken

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  • Michael, I address your comment in an update to the post itself.
    Ken, I just don’t see it. If the stuff was flavorless (I can’t see how), idiots wold be sprinkling it on their Corn Flakes at breakfast, or on their chips in the break room. We’d be back to the Gin Craze days of 1730’s London.
    If it isn’t flavorless, then it would only be suitable for pills, or else you might as well use the original stuff.
    I will grant that you could use it to make and market full-on cocktails that could be sold to any age, with legal-agers adding a packet to them, like a Goody’s Headache Powder. But that just is fraught with so much more fraughtedness….

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  • As to the Why? I don’t have an answer, but that’s why we have thousands of creative bartenders all around the world to find a good use for any silly thing the rest of us can come up with. Maybe it would simply be useful to give astronauts a little tipple after a long day working on the space station.

    But i DO believe that it can, and very likely has been done. Credible source or no, as ken suggested we’re already doing very similar things in the world of molecular gastronomy. Tapioca maltodextarin can be used to turn fats into powders, I’ve done it myself with bacon fat, and it’s not too far a leap to go from long hydrocarbon chains down to the very short one that makes up the backbone of alcohol. The ‘-OH’ group could even feasibly be used to an advantage in the binding site. However, it would very likely work only with pure alcohol, as there is no real way to powder water that I know of that’s stable at room temperature without being contained in a vacuum. The other problem is that, if like in fat transformation they use a complex starch, it’s still present in the powder product, and powdered fats tend to get a little, well, doughy, in your mouth when your saliva reconstitutes the mixture.

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  • That’s interesting, Nate. But how much of the starch do you need to powder how much alcohol? I can’t see how this would reduce the volume, and might dramatically increase it. Also, would it introduce spoilage problems which might even exceed any savings in evaporation losses?
    And beyond texture, how about the taste? What kind of taste is introduced in this process?

    But I now can conceive of two products that we could have fun with:
    Envision a bowl of gruel with the tag line of “Absolut Tapioca”
    And I can just see us reclaiming the Rave crowd from Ecstasy with a properly formulated Lik-Em-Stix product. Add the right flavorants, and you could have your lime-flavored stick and three pouches of rum, brandy, and scotch powders….

    In other words, I still think it’s a bad idea….

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