The creator of a controversial new pre-mix vodka drink has been selling the product online illegally.
Auckland-based company Pure Amino has halted online sales of its raspberry lemon vodka drink after Herald inquiries found the company had no liquor licence.
The drink hit the headlines last week after health experts rubbished claims the vodka drink would not leave you with an "awful hangover".
Since then the Herald has learned the company had no licence to sell directly to the public online. It is also sold through some bottle stores.
Auckland Council manager of alcohol licensing Ron Abbott said if the product was only being sold to bottle stores a licence was not needed but because it was being sold direct to consumers online a licence was required.
Abbott said when a company was found to be non-compliant staff would advise them of the rules and how to obtain a licence.
The man behind the drink, Dene Flude, said he was not aware of the licensing requirement until Auckland Council contacted the company.
"As soon as we were made aware, we halted our online sales immediately," he said. "We are currently working through the licensing process with council staff.
"When that process is completed, we hope to reboot our online sales."
The company was marketing its drinks as perfect for anyone who led an active lifestyle but also enjoyed a social life that included drinking alcohol.
"Now you drink whilst staying hydrated, consume our Pure Aminos and enjoy the next day without that awful hangover," the website says
The 300ml bottles come in 12 packs which sold for about $39.99 in some liquor stores.
The company said its products, including the vodka drinks, had no sugar or carbohydrates and contained four amino acids touted to help create lean muscle, improve brain function, burn body fat and give you energy.
But health experts said too much alcohol in your system would result in a hangover regardless of the product.
Massey University School of Sport, Exercise and Nutrition senior lecturer Dr Matthew Barnes also said very heavy drinking could have a detrimental effect on protein synthesis so it was possible any benefit from the amino acids would be lost.
The Advertising Standards Authority believed the marketing of the product may also be borderline in terms of whether it breached any part of the Code for Advertising and Promotion of Alcohol.
The code said alcohol advertising should not suggest any therapeutic benefit or be misleading.
Claiming to reduce or eliminate the negative effects of alcohol was a therapeutic benefit and proving the claims were true would be difficult so any such advertising may breach the code, a spokeswoman said.
Flude last week told the Herald customers said they experienced a "lessened hangover".
The packaging listed information about the drink's ingredients and the website reminded customers to drink alcohol safely, he said.
However, the company was concerned that the brand messages may lead to confusion for customers and would consider looking at how it markets the product.