Margarita-lovers, take heed: there's a citrus-related emergency unfolding that strikes right at the heart of your favorite drinking pastime. As we noted a few days ago, a dearth of limes in Mexico has driven up prices to the point where local margarita purveyors like Tacolicious are seeking alternatives. Now, Alcademics writes that the price spike has taken a case of limes from a former low of about $25 to the current price of $135, a more than five-fold increase.
Poor weather in Colima is partly to blame for the shortage, destroying a majority of this year's crop. But a bigger issue is ongoing violence between Mexican drug cartels and the farmers they've been strong-arming, who've begun to fight back. Harvest and export of limes has gotten caught up in the mix, and the problem has filtered down to local bars, who are scrambling to adjust. Julio Bermejo, whose family has been churning out Tommy's margaritas since 1965, says it's the worst lime problem he's seen in his career. "I have never seen it this bad for so long."
Sticker shock has some bar folk like Kinson Lau of Alchemist considering utilizing acid phosphate and lactart in new drinks, the Future Bars empire limiting or leaving off lime garnishes altogether, and Tacolicious changing the makeup of their house margarita to include lemon and pre-squeezed lime juice, with the regular all-lime juice version jumping to a higher price point. Inside Scoop reports that though some spots with lime-heavy cocktail menus are trying to ride out the storm, like Smuggler's Cove and Nopalito, others are tweaking menus to use lemons wherever possible, like Josh Harris of Trick Dog, who dubbed the current price war the "lime tornado of hell."
Though the citric scourge is wreaking havoc, no one's getting scurvy just yet, and there may be good news on the horizon. Word has it that prices have eased slightly since last week, as shipments from other areas of Mexico have begun to arrive on our northern shores.
· Out of the Limelight: Lime Shortage, Margarita Markups, and Lemon Garnishes [Alcademics]
· Additional Lime Shortage Intel From Julio Bermejo of Tommy's [Alcademics]
· Restaurateurs squeezed by shortage of limes [Inside Scoop]