You’ve been hearing for weeks about the Great Lime Shortage of 2014. Thanks to a crop disease affecting a lime-growing region of Mexico, the fruit’s supply has been limited here in the United States, and prices have tripled (yes) in three months. In early April, retail prices for limes climbed to 56 cents apiece — and if that doesn’t sound like much, here’s something to put it in perspective:
George Ortiz, who manages Chicago’s Adobo Grill, tells Bloomberg the fresh-squeezed lime juice in the Mexican restaurant’s margaritas is now more expensive than the tequila. While George says the restaurant spends about $23 on a bottle of tequila, the same amount of lime juice will set it back about $40, he estimates.
When you factor in all the other dishes Mexican eateries like Adobo use lime juice in — “We use it for table-side guacamole. We use it for ceviches. It’s a huge expense,” Ortiz notes. You might start wonder if you should skip those Cinco de Mayo celebrations this year.
Don’t worry. It turns out the best thing you can do for these restaurants is to go and enjoy. “We are hoping that enough people walk in through the door to help us make up for the squeeze in margins,” Elias Mandilaras, who manages Dos Caminos restaurant in New York, tells Bloomberg.
It’s worth noting that margaritas made from ready-made mixes are not affected by the lime shortage — because most of them contain no fruit. Only about 30 percent of U.S. bars make their margaritas from scratch.
That last stat might make you consider celebrating the holiday at home, where you can skip the lime without sacrificing freshness or taste. Here’s a recipe for guacamole that gets its zing from lemon, not lime.
And for lime-free margaritas, try these recipes: