Ahhh… The Nutcracker… That tasty flavorful adult beverage that comes in the signature Styrofoam cup or sometimes in the plastic juice cartons. Some say it was created by Boricuas, more people definitively say it was Dominicans and other rumors even suggest it might’ve been an Irishman in the 80’s, but no matter who made it first, it was most definitely perfected in Washington Heights.
Coquito is to winter as the Nutcracker is to summer, and this summer Being Latino’s own guest writer, and Uptown Collective founder and pioneer Led Black is delving in to find out the history and interest behind this liquid phenomenon.
Some of the recipes may differ it could be purple or pink, depending on how you mix that…. Wait… As quoting anything from Drake is against my religion, I shall refrain from finishing that sentence. I caught up with Led this week, who just celebrated Uptown Collective’s 2nd anniversary, to speak more about the project and the delectable alcoholic concoction, called “Nutcracker, Inc.”
It started with his barber, according to Black, “When I first started Uptown Collective, the first article I wrote in Feb 2010, was about the Nutcracker, or at least the story of the Nutcracker as I knew it at the time. My barber [Kati], was one of the first to start selling the drink uptown, she wasn’t THE first, she says was the first, she could’ve been the first, but there were other people around that same time that were doing it. The original Nutcracker was from a dude from Uptown who chilled at [a restaurant] Flor de Mayo, [gave them the recipe, and they began selling it first]. My barber saw how well it was doing, got her girlfriend to flirt with the bartender to get the recipe, took it uptown the same night, and from there it took off, from 186th St & St. Nicholas Ave. So my [original concept] was about her [involvement] and the eventual rise and fall.”
He went on to say how it wasn’t until, John Ullman director and writer of the movie GWB, read the story (which is still one of UC’s greatest generators of web traffic) – after being introduced to Kati the barber – did the idea of turning the story into a documentary came to light. Since then the concept has evolved into not only a telling of the drink’s history, but the history of the neighborhood that cultivated it.
“We’re going to be filming throughout the summer, [planning to wrap-up by] the Dominican Independence Day, which is the biggest Nutcracker [selling] day of the year… Our Indiegogo campaign ends around that time, [and after editing] we’re hoping to have it finished by January to get it submitted to the [2013 film] festivals.”
Supporters of the film project will also have an opportunity to gain some really cool merchandise associated with the movie; pins, bottle openers, and t-shirts, all featuring the quintessential cup-shaped logo.
So if you find yourself in the Heights this summer, you can stop by Flor de Mayo, or Le Chéile on 181st St and Cabrini Blvd who is hosting a Nutcracker Awareness Month, with $1 from each sale going towards the film’s fundraising. Spread love, it’s the uptown way!