Group Home’s Melachi isn’t the only nutcracker repping the streets of New York these days. The New York Times recently reported that nutcracker, a bootleg mixed drink whose roots extend as far back as the Prohibition era, is making a major comeback in New York City, particularly in Harlem. Dealers are mixing the drink on a mass scale and selling to consumers for $5 bottle. The drink, which is a highly potent concoction of various hard liquors and fruit drinks, has become especially popular with teens at block parties and other outdoor events.
“It’s definitely a summer drink, and I try to serve them as cold as possible,” said a nutcracker bootlegger under the alias of Kool-Aid. “It’s a fruity drink, so you don’t have to sip it with your face all scrunched up; you feel really nice without getting totally bombed out.” (NYTimes.com)
The popularity of the drink has many parents and state officials worried. Not only are many of the consumers of nutcrackers are under the legal drinking, but the drink is also potentially toxic due to the number of hard alcohols mixed into it.
“I think adults and young adults are being very selfish and using greed to raise money,” said activist Rev. Vernon Williams. “And they are taking this toxic combination of multiple high-level alcohols and selling it indiscriminately to anyone who has the $5.” (NYTimes.com)
Kool-Aid – who refuses to sell the drink to minors or strangers – reenforced Rev. Williams’s fears, saying, “Hustlers just think it’s all about the buck. They don’t care about the families or the parent who’s looking for their child at 1 in the morning, and they’re passed out drunk on somebody’s stoop from too many nutcrackers.” (NYTimes.com)
Bootlegging nutcrackers is also proving to be fairly precarious in itself. Police are sweeping the streets for nutcracker dealers, issuing summonses from $250 up to $500 to both dealer and buyer. And after a series of articles appeared in The Daily News about the drink , the public’s eye is begin to focus more and more on the illicit trade.
“[Bootlegging nutcrackers] comes with risks,” said Kool-Aid. “I don’t have a criminal record, so I don’t want to get one for selling drinks.” (NYTimes.com)
The nutcracker phenomenon has already hit the world of Hip Hop. N.O.R.E.’s latest Scoop DeVille-produced single “Nutcracker” is an ode to the drink, and in a 2009 interview with DX, Joe Budden’s ex-girlfriend Tahiry Jose said that she has made numerous nutcrackers while on the job as a bartender. MissInfo.tv’s Mikey Fresh caught up with N.O.R.E. to discuss the finer points of the nutcracker and why there is not set recipe to the drink.
“The thing about the nutcracker thing is that…if you ever ask somebody who makes nutcracker ‘How do you make it,’ the conversation stops so short,” he explained. “It’s a real underground [drink]. The people who make it, they must have taken a real oath or a pact [to] never tell other people [the ingredients]. But the real seriousness about the nutcracker is that it’s really a New York-based thing. I remember when…I first I started seeing it in Harlem…then I started seeing it in the Bronx, but they were all red at the time. When I went to Brooklyn…they had orange ones. Now…they have grape, they have Hi-C, they’ve got Hawaiian Punch…it’s an undergroun thing in New York that I’m proud to help take it to the next level.”
The full interview with N.O.R.E. can be seen below.