Green’s Dictionary of Slang

powder n.1

1. (US) a drink of liquor, thus powdered up, drunk [joc. use of SE powder, a medicine or a dose of medicine].

[US]T.A. Dorgan Indoor Sports 22 Apr. [synd. cartoon] Yes the chef at the Grunewald in New Orleans showed me how to build this [i.e. a cocktail] and it’s some powder.
[US]St Louis Post-Despatch 16 Jan. 25/2: Now, if you want to stick around here, you cut out the powders (whiskey).
D. Runyon ‘A Tale of Two Fists’ XXVI in Pittsburgh Press (PA) 14 June 11/7: ‘I drank $10 worth of brew [...] and I was all powdered up’.
[US]Irwin Amer. Tramp and Und. Sl. 150: Powder.– A drink of liquor, seemingly taken from the fact that a drink often braces one up much as would a powdered medicine.
[US]J.H. O’Hara Pal Joey 99: I [...] was having a quiet powder.
[US]B. Schulberg Harder They Fall (1971) 123: It’s part of my racket to sit around [...] enjoying a friendly powder with the boys.
[US]Ragen & Finston World’s Toughest Prison 813: powder – A drink of liquor.

2. (drugs) any form of powdered drug, e.g. heroin, cocaine, amphetamine.

[US]H.C. Witwer Kid Scanlon 54: I’m not goin’ to stop anywheres for no powders.
[US]M. Harris ‘Facing the Mob’ in Gangland Stories Feb. [Internet] ‘Sniff another powder and forget it,’ Smooth advised. ‘You’re nuttier ’n hell.’.
[US]Anslinger & Tompkins Traffic In Narcotics 314: powder. A powdered drug.
[US]L. Block Diet of Treacle (2008) 112: He never sold a grain of powder.
[US]A. Hoffman Property Of (1978) 189: He deals in powders. Cocaine and speed. [...] And some smack.
[US]T. Williams Cocaine Kids (1990) 7: By 1984 [...] only a few customers were asking for powder.
[UK]K. Sampson Powder 59: Sort us some powder?
[US]‘Master Pimp’ Pimp’s Rap 110: (specifically heroin) I’ll move all the weed you want, but don’t ever dump any coke or powder on me. Never.
[US]W.T. Vollmann Royal Family 353: She got five dollars’ worth of powder from a dealer [...] and after taking a little snort for heself [etc.].
[US]UGK ‘Gravy’ [lyrics] On parole well I’m a pistol packer, drugs sold, powder jacker.
[Aus] D. Whish-Wilson ‘In Savage Freedom’ in Crime Factory: Hard Labour [ebook] Danny [...] had his father’s weakness for the powder.
J. Robinson Gospel of the Game 20: Let’s have a drink and some powder.

In compounds

powder factory (n.)

a wholesale distribution centre for narcotics.

[US]D. Pendleton Boston Blitz (1974) 133: Knocking over two ‘powder factories’—wholesale distribution centres for hard narcotics.
powder puff (n.)

see separate entry.

powder works (n.)

(US) a bar, a tavern.

[US]A. Baer Two & Three 4 Nov. [synd. col.] Getting a snifter in this man’s town is a tougher job than keeping a crease in a mail order catalogue suit [...] All the powder works are now United Cheroot stores.

In phrases

powder one’s nose (v.)

see separate entry.