The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Sunday, September 14, 2003

liquid smoke
If you're a smoker AND a barfly, you're starting to see the handwriting on the wall. New York State and Florida recently passed laws outlawing smoking in restaurants and (in the case of Florida) most bars. California, of course, has had such laws on the books for a couple of years. It's only a matter of time before this spreads to the rest of the country, either state-by-state or (more likely) on the Federal level.

What's a nicotine addict to do? Turning more fully to alcohol is one option. And some creative bartenders now are making the booze even more appealing, because they're devising cigarette substitutes in pourable form:

- In New York, the Smokeless Manhattan treats the smoker's tastebuds to the Flavor Country that is Marlboro Reds. Unfortunately, taste is all you'll get; there's no nicotine kick to this concoction. It sounds pretty disgusting: Churchill's port wine, Laphroaig scotch and orange bitters... yuck! On the other hand, I have no doubt it delivers what it promises--like drinking an ashtray, to modify a popular explanation against kissing a smoker. I guess this would appeal to the same schlubs who like non-alcoholic beer.

- In South Florida, the nicotini goes for substance over style, as the main thrust of this drink is infusing vodka with tobacco leaves, thereby providing the drinker a wicked kick. The nicotini is available in two flavors: Menthol, with creme de menthe, and Black Lung, with coffee-tinged Kahlua. The verdict?

"It tastes like a cross between vodka and chewing tobacco," said Fort Lauderdale resident Jonathan Cook after trying his first nicotini. "That's not necessarily a bad thing."

Whatever you say, dude.