Investigative Reports: Uptown Phenomenon part 7

We last spoke about the Nutcracker drink here. Shout out to Serve Chilled 81 from NT, for supporting the movement.

My Nutcracker series is very dear to my heart as I’ve done a lot of research on the subject over the past few years and have had countless conversations, samplings and debates on the origin of the beautiful drink.

Let it be known that there IS a specific formula for the Nutcracker drink, but like most things that make money in the streets or money in general, people will sell you their own “version” for a quick buck. Once you taste an official Nutcracker though, it will bring a smile to your face any time it you think of its tasty flavor.

These blogs have gladly been used across the web as a resource when discussing the Uptown Phenomenon and I’ve been contacted by various print and video outlets who wanted me to further discuss my love affair with the drink. To go on record basically doing what I do here.  They were very kind and I developed some good relationships, but I really had to decline because of the illegal nature of the mighty Nutcracker. I wasn’t trying to blow up spots and/or mess anyone’s money up. Better yet, it wouldn’t be a good look if someone got locked up, a ticket or fine because I brought some camera crew to their establishment to get bent on Nutcrackers.

Even worse, what if my words got published by someone whose sole purpose was to stop the sale of the mystical drink? When discussing my concerns with my peers, they told me not to get paranoid and to continue with the program. Due to recent media backlash though, I’m glad that I went with my gut feelings, while keeping my eye on the sparrow. Nutcrackers are probably about to go a bit more underground, so if you’re still buying them on the street, remember what I told you in part one of the series, “Be careful where you get them from”.

Also, Nutcrackers are not for kids! Shut your face and stop blabbing to reporters Shaquel aka “Sha-squeal” ya big dummy… They call you jail bait for a reason. Fall back and drink a red bull on the rocks or something for a buzzz. You’re just off the nipple yourself, so stay out of grown folks’ business.

Media Backlash:

Bodegas, barbershops dealing sweet liquor punch ‘Nutcrackers’ to city teens

BY Simone Weichselbaum
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER

Sunday, January 3rd 2010, 4:00 AM

The city’s bodegas and barbershops are secretly selling kids as young as 14 an illegal and potent mix of fruit punch and alcohol, a Daily News investigation found.

“Nutcrackers,” and a frozen version called the “Nemo,” sell for $5 or $10 a cup – an easy buzz for teens who like the sweet taste and the cheap price.

“They are poppin’. They get you sauced,” said Shaquel, a 15-year-old who declined to give his last name.

A News reporter was able to buy the blend of punch and vodka, white rum or tequila at five shops in upper Manhattan and the Bronx last week, including a Washington Heights natural juice spot.

“Kids like them. You don’t need ID to get them. It is like your first step toward drinking liquor,” Shaquel said.

To make the street cocktails even more appealing to teens, some sellers add liquor to piña colada mix or drop a Jolly Rancher candy at the bottom of the cup.

“It is a real phenomenon right now, and it needs a law enforcement response,” said Dr. Peter Provet, head of the Odyssey House, a drug and alcohol rehabilitation clinic for teens. “Kids who start to abuse alcohol start to abuse things that are sweet.”

Shaquel said he regularly buys fruit punch and sour apple nutcrackers from Rodriguez Deli Food Center in the Mott Haven section of the Bronx.

The News visited the deli and bought a 16-oz. styrofoam cup filled with Tampico tropical punch and vodka for $5.

The News also bought nutcrackers from Juaquin Deli, just down the block on Morris Ave. The reporter was never asked to show ID.

Carlos, a Mott Haven 17-year-old, said he was surprised bodega workers sold to an outsider.

“You gotta know the bodegas,” Carlos said. “If they don’t know you, you ain’t gettin’ nothin’.”

And in fact, a worker at Rodriguez Deli was suspicious – but not enough to send the reporter away.

“Who sent you?” the worker asked. “They are illegal,” he said before handing over a cup in a black plastic bag.

Other spots have been busted for selling the boozy concoction – but the fines don’t seem to have stopped them.

Cops caught Juaquin Deli in August 2008 with a jug filled with red nutcracker, court papers say. Yet the News was able to buy three cups of the drink there in two visits last week.

Police also cited a Washington Heights barbershop on Audubon Ave. in July 2008 for selling a nutcracker, but The News was still able to buy two $10 containers.

The shop’s owner, who said his name is Freddy Imperial, stashes the hooch behind the back tire of a Toyota Avalon in front of his store.

His mix is so popular, he claims, that rappers like Fat Joe are fans.

“Just drink one,” a 16-year-old girl warned a reporter. “Two will get you twisted.”

Link

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Investigative Reports: Uptown Phenomenon part 3

The Competition

When I first started to research about the street drink called “Nutcracker”, I was also told of other drinks sold on the streets of Washington Heights and El Barrio called “Elmos”, “Cookie Monsters”, and “Finding Nemos”.

A few days ago, I found what may be The Mighty Nutcracker’s biggest foe. “Dog Water”.

Now, eventhough Dog Water is based on, and basically another version of Nutcracker, peep what the “creator” has to say.

“Dog Water™ was started in SPRING of 2001. While walking around the hood, I kept hearing about a drink called a Nutcracker. I was curious and wanted to know more. So, I spent a considerable amount of time talking to people and learning about mixed drinks. I also remembered what a big liquor company once told me about the making, blending and mixing of different types of liquors. As an entrepreneur, I understood the effort and risk of venturing into new territory. However, I decided to put my own spin on it. It took a lot of time, effort and other resources during the initial phase to mix, test, and sample until a premium beverage was arrived at. Dog Water™ was worth the plunge into uncharted waters. Try one today and enjoy one of the industry’s finest new mixed drink sensations.”

^^ Those sound like fighting words to me…

Anyway, we have seen that the “hood” is all-encompassing and there is room to coexist with the original. Both have been around over 7 years and are still kicking.

While Dog Water may not have the total appeal of the Nutcracker, they do seem to have a fanbase.

Where my dogs at?

Peep the flix below.

^^ Fatboy might just be drinking a lemon iced tea in that wonton soup cup, but he looks happy as hell. As do the people with the dog waters.

Nutcrackers and Dog Water.

Can it be that it was all so simple then?

Link

Investigative Reports: Uptown Phenomenon.

For the past few years, when I hang out Uptown (Harlem, Spanish Harlem, Washington Heights), I’ve been seeing people selling and buying nutcrackers. Everyone up there seems to be in the know and enjoys them.

A few questions..

1. When did people start making them?
2. Wtf is in em?

All my friends from uptown say they are good, but to “be careful cuz people sometimes put shit in em”. WTF??

How’d something that seems so simple and colorful become such a phenomenon?

I’m on the case to find out exactly.

Stay tuned…