NBC: Bill by Sen. Espaillat will increase penalties on those who sell 'nutcracker' drinks

Adriano Espaillat

June 17, 2011

Pols Want to Clamp Down on Sugary Booze Sales to Minors

June 8, 2011

By Zachary Kussin

Bodegas and stores that sell a sweetened alcoholic beverage known as "nutcrackers" to underage customers could soon face tough penalties --including fines and jail time.

The so-called "Nutcracker Bill," which unanimously passed a vote in the New York State Senate on Monday, comes after investigators found that barbershops and small grocery stores around the five boroughs had been selling the mixed drinks to minors.

The drinks are generally made of hard liquor, like vodka or rum, and highly sweetened juice or Kool-Aid. The beverages seem to be especially targeted to teens because they are cheap and sugary.

"The dangers of alcohol consumption for minors are even worse when they are sold sugary, colorful alcoholic beverages that are easy to drink but deceptively intoxicating," said State Sen. Adriano Espaillat, who sponsored the bill.

Proposed penalties for selling nutcrackers to underage drinkers could include heavy fines and imprisonment for repeat offenders. Barbershops that sell the drinks will lose their licenses.
“By passing this legislation, we are sending a clear signal that there is nothing more important than the health and well-being of our young people," said Espaillat in his statement.

The bill still awaits a vote in the State Assembly, where it is sponsored by Bronx Assemblyman Nelson Castro.