The lime shortage has hit Seattle hard this season: outrage over pho garnishes being changed from limes to lemons is possibly at an all-time high. But looking forward a few weeks, as spring blossoms into summer, a bigger issue looms: what will this summer’s gin and tonics be garnished with?
Bartenders, with their mojitos and margaritas, gin and tonics, and daiquiris are closer to the lime crisis than anyone. Jamie Boudreau of Canon pointed out that this happens every year; this year’s lime crisis is just lasting longer than usual. “We’re sucking it up and the prices are already starting to drop.” He does also admit that he doesn’t make many margaritas, so it’s not too big a deal for him.
Jim Romdall of Rumba does use a lot of limes—it’s a bar centered around the daiquiri. They, too, were sucking it up and holding their breath, waiting for prices to come down, but he made the case for the lemon garnish for a gin and tonic while we wait: “Bars in Spain truly dedicated to the gin and tonic will have hundreds of gins and a huge selection of different tonics. They tend to pair the garnish to the ingredients, but they use lemon far more often than lime.”
But, as the pho crisis indicates, it’s not simply a straight switch between lemon and lime. Anu Apte of Rob Roy points that out, suggesting that different gins require different garnishes, including the lemon slice, but also a cucumber garnish. Testing it out with a Hendrick’s gin and tonic, it was good: crisp, cool, refreshing, and matched with the gin’s flavor. Then she offered another option that might just improve upon the traditional lime slice: add a couple of drops of Bittermens Hopped Grapefruit to the gin and tonic, and garnish with a grapefruit twist.
So, while the rest of Seattle still mourns the marring of their Vietnamese noodle soup, I’ll be over here, with my grapefruit-scented gin and tonic, toasting to Anu Apte.