Making the Most of the Lime Shortage

Can matters get any worse for limes? With everything from bad weather to citrus disease to drug cartels disrupting deliveries, this season’s harvest faced an inevitable shortage. One segment that’s been squeezed over the lime shortage: bars and restaurants. Owners can still get their hands on this high-demand citrus, but for upwards of $135 per case. Compare that to $15 to $20 last year! We recommend seeking creative alternatives, like the following, to skip eating the cost while highlighting your alcohol selection, sans limes.

Switch your Citrus. Meyer lemons, oranges, and grapefruit are just a few of the lime’s close relatives that are still abundant on the farmer’s market stands and grocery store bins. Many bartenders are simply switching limes for lemons in their alcoholic beverages, including the margarita. Lemon-growing giant, Limoneira, has come up with a selection of lemon-based recipes to inspire mixologists in making the switch, including one for a Meyer Lemon Mojito and Meyer Lemon Mai Tai.

Go Local. With the majority of our limes coming from Mexico, bartenders who prefer using local and seasonal produce never placed much emphasis on limes to begin with. Consider crafting an updated menu selection that highlights delicious spring and summer fruits that grow in your region. For instance, Punch reports that Baltimore bartender Stephanie Griber, a self-proclaimed “locavore”, uses verjus, hard cider, vinegars, and kombucha to add acidity and brighten the flavors of her cocktails.

Find Substitutes. If you have a passion for presenting a delicious and innovative alcohol selection, then coming up with new ways to get around the lime crisis probably comes naturally. Since bottled pasteurized lime juice simply won’t do, a change in menu is in order. Now’s your chance to experiment. Grub Street reports that New York’s Apartment 13 and Mother’s Ruin have both undergone complete menu overhauls so that none of their featured cocktails use lime juice.

Go Over the Top. In addition to being mixed into cocktails, limes have been especially popular as garnishes for the likes of Coronas, Tecates, and gin and tonics. They have even been known to grace the rim of many a Coca Cola. Garnishes, however, may easily be switched out, whether it’s with an alternative fruit, such as pineapple wedges or cherries, a fun food, such as marshmallows or sour candy, or even a creative craft that outdoes the traditional umbrella garnish.

As you navigate your way around the current lime crisis or whatever detours that inevitably come around, it helps to have great inventory management to keep track of your produce levels, as well as running promotions on social media to keep the public up to date on what’s new at your restaurant. Revel Systems tools are built in with these capabilities, as well as all your management needs.