Now that it’s impossible to smoke in most bars in New York, a new trend has emerged: “Nicotinis.” They’re martinis that are spiked with nicotine — so you can get your nicotine buzz while perched atop your barstool. As the Sun-Sentinel reports:

The regular nicotini has more bite than a martini and leaves a noticeable aftertaste in the throat. The menthol variety contains crème de menthe and has a cough drop taste, while the “Black Lung” includes Kahlua and has a coffee flavor.

“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.”

I don’t smoke but, given that I have an addictive personality, I empathize strongly with smoking addicts. I’ve wondered about other ways to let people get their nicotine hit in bars — including, say, chewing tobacco. Sure, it’s kinda gross, but you could instal spittoons and give all those upscale Manhattan bars a nicely Wild West feel.

This isn’t entirely fanciful, by the way. A couple of years ago, I was interviewing a major young American novelist, and he spent the entire hour-long talk sipping from a styrofoam cup. I assumed he was drinking a coffee, but no: He was actually chewing tobacco the entire time, and raising the cup to discreetly spit in it. “It’s great for transatlantic flights,” he said. “All the smokers are jonesing like mad and dragging their nails across their faces. Meanwhile, I’m happily sitting here chewing and spitting.” We reminisced a bit about “chaw”. Back when I was in the Boy Scouts, we used to buy it to take on camps, whereupon we’d all get insanely stoned — since none of were old enough yet to smoke — and then throw up. Anyway, the novelist offered me some of his chewing tobacco. Since I still don’t smoke, I again got instantly baked out of my mind (it’s amazing how powerful nicotine’s effect is on the untrained lung). When I came to spit it out, he offered me the cup, so I was was forced to expectorate into a three-inch deep slurry of chewing tobacco and Major American Novelist Spit.

“Dude,” I said. “That is the most revolting thing I’ve ever seen in my life.”

For the record … no, I can’t tell you who the novelist was, because he threatened to punch me.

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I'm Clive Thompson, the author of Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better (Penguin Press). You can order the book now at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, Indiebound, or through your local bookstore! I'm also a contributing writer for the New York Times Magazine and a columnist for Wired magazine. Email is here or ping me via the antiquated form of AOL IM (pomeranian99).

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