Summer is raging in NYC but it feels like Christmas in July! Why? Cuz of the Nutcracker, of course.
For the uninitiated, the Nutcracker is the new crack, the new moonshine and the new Viagra if you believe its hawkers and imbibers. Made with several spirits mixed with sickly sweet juices, Kool Aid or candy, the drink is NYC’s other indigenous alcoholic beverage created by Dominicans in the city’s Upper West Side: Washington Heights.
Nutcracker drinks are sold in plastic cups or in sealed plastic bottles for five bucks or more in barrios, on the street, on beaches, and on the subway! The last time something this homemade caused waves of concern was when crack was introduced in the ’80s, or when Prohibition came to Harlem. Think bathtub gin and rent parties, except this time, the liquor can be purchased freely, and the only flappers you’ll see are lips parted in a loud cry of “Nutcrackers! Get your Nutcrackers!!!”
One thing is certain: the beverage signifies the immigrant spirit of entrepreneurship and creativity. It was created, allegedly, by a Dominican barber who sold it to her customers from a cooler near her chair, and out of a rented basement apartment before fear of La Migra and competition forced her to cash out with $35K in profits. That was about 10 years ago, according to budding filmmakers Led Black and Jonathan Ullman. The co-directors of Nutcracker, Inc. filmed a documentary about the illicit beverage, currently enraging politicians who have called for stiffer fines for its makers. Seems like teenagers were passing out drunk from the drink after buying them in bodegas and on street corners.
Nutcracker, Inc., according to the duo, “will explore the origins of this mysterious drink, not just where it came from but how it developed into the iconic summertime beverage of choice in Washington Heights and beyond…[and] will also take a look at the relationship between the Nutcracker and Washington Heights, delving into the recent history of the neighborhood and the hustle and drive of its residents.”
Provided there is funding for the film, which began first round shooting this summer. You can read all about Nutcracker, Inc. on its Indiegogo page where a call for investement has been posted. Black and Ullman need 50Gs. So far they’ve raised just over a grand. Will you do your part and contribute to history, thirsty citizen?