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Upper Manhattan Cops Crack Down on Fruity Booze Drinks

By Carla Zanoni | May 20, 2011 2:46pm | Updated on May 21, 2011 9:38am

By Carla Zanoni

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

UPPER MANHATTAN — Cops are vowing to crack down on Nutcracker.

Captain Jose Navarro of the 34th Precinct said his squad would ramp up efforts to stop the illegal syrupy-sweet hard liquor drink from being sold to teens this summer.

"We want to get this off the street, especially when they are selling this garbage to little kids," he said.

The potent drink is a mix of hard liquor — often whiskey, rum and vodka — mixed with different fruit juices, Kool-Aid and sometimes candy like Jolly Ranchers.

It's served up in kid-friendly large Styrofoam cups, 32-ounce soup containers or clear plastic juice bottles.

The illicit booze is at barbershops and bodegas, or from coolers on sidewalks and out of the backs of vans, said Navarro. The frozen version of Nutcracker is called "Finding Nemo" or "Nemo" for short.

Talk about the drink and vendors hawking the sale of Nutcracker can often be found on Twitter as well.

"These drinks are dangerous, they’ll fuel a fight," he said, adding that the drinks are often sold at bodegas late at night when the storefronts transform themselves into "after hours nightclubs."

In 2010, a group of Northern Manhattan elected officials called for more enforcement around the sale of the illegal drinks. They want new legislation to increase penalties for selling alcohol without a license and to make the illegal sale of alcohol to minors grounds for suspension or revocation of a barber shop’s license.

Residents in Washington Heights and Inwood said the sale of the illegal drinks at $5 to $10 a pop is prevalent and increases once the weather warms up.

Nutcracker’s origins are up for debate, with Uptown Collective claiming they were first sold at a Chinese-Latino eatery on the Upper West Side and later brought to Washington Heights to sell to crowds at a local barbershop. The New York Times citing the same folklore, focused on the drinks roots in Harlem.

Police don't care where Nutcracker came from. They just want residents who see anyone selling the drinks to call the 34th Precinct with tips.