Lime Wars

Darcy O'Neil and his Acid Phosphate

This man may be our only hope….

If you give a damn about drinks, you have likely noticed that the price of limes has gone berserk recently. They clocked in at a buck a piece yesterday at my favorite supermarket. That is twenty cents more per fruit than lemons. I don’t remember seeing that ever. It is making amateur mixers like myself rather grumpy, forcing menu changes on fresh ingredient cocktail bars, and absolutely killing Mexican restaurants and tequila bars. It has gotten so bad that, in another sign of the mainstreaming of cocktail culture, the situation is being discussed on national morning chat shows like Live! with Kelly and Michael.

Why are we in this pickle? The answer is a perfect storm of forces, ordinary, extraordinary, and chronic.

First off, this time of year most of our limes in the US come from Mexico, and the areas there where limes are most heavily cultivated saw an unusual amount of rain last Fall. This apparently inhibited the formation of flower buds on the trees, resulting in a reduced yield. Weather happens, and alone this would likely have created but a blip in prices, not a shock.

Of more serious concern is Huang Long Bing. This is a bacteria spread by insects which first ruins the fruit of citrus trees, then kills them entirely within a few years. It is taking hold in Mexico’s lime-rich Colima area and will likely affect lime production for the foreseeable future. If that doesn’t make you shudder by itself, how does the fact that Huang Long Bing has settled into Florida, and its carrying insects have been found in quantity in California?

So the one season weather problem and the longer-term bacteria problem have driven up lime prices in other Mexican areas that do have produce coming off the trees. Which has drawn the attention of Mexico’s largest plague: Drug cartels. They look and see all that green moving through their territory and do what any criminal entrepreneur would: Grab automatic weapons and set up road blocks to extort “tolls” from trucks full of limes, or even just outright hijack them to sell the fruit themselves. There are even reports of the Knights Templar narco gang going right to the source and outright taking over entire farms for themselves!

So yeah, the argument can now be made, similar to the old one about cocaine, that that Margarita you are enjoying is supporting drug lords.

What is to be done? Well, perhaps America’s forlorn cocktailian eyes will have to turn to Canada for help in the fight against citro-terrorism. Pictured atop this post is Darcy O’Neil (some Photoshop may have been applied), who stands ready to help you fight back. Darcy makes Acid Phosphate (and Lactart) an acidifier for cocktails that, while not a direct replacement for lime juice, alas, is well worth exploring to assuage your taste for tart in drinks. And it is 100% free of interference from, and subsidization of Mexican drug lords. At least until they start hijacking trucks from Amazon.com. Lest this give the Knights Templar any ideas, they should remember that Bezos has drones….

As a last resort, if you have a lime tree of your own (lucky stiff), there are business out there who need your help!


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  1. Tiare

    1 April

    Luckily over here i haven`t seen any effects of this which of course must be because a lot of our limes are imported from Brazil, but limes from the US are also imported. The normal prices here range from 3 for a buck and a half to 1 for a buck depending, and there haven`t been any changes in prices in years.I hope it stays that way.As for your country, it looks quite alarming right now.btw that pic of Darcy cracked me up:-)

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  2. Swanky

    1 April

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  3. Ted Leger

    6 April

    I can’t believe the price of limes over there! Here it isn’t near as bad, you can get from 2-3 for a dollar, and even sometimes 4 depending on the grocery store you go to.

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  4. Tiare

    7 April

    The problem with anything bottled is that the freshness is gone…but maybe half bottled organic lime juice mixed with half of freshly pressed lemon juice? Then you get some lime flavor but still some freshness as well.

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  5. CalmHub

    13 June

    I don’t know about the comment made about anything bottled not being fresh. I love the margaritas that are mixed with lime, and if you ever tasted a real one made with real fruit, you can see the difference.

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