Global lime shortage impacting bars, restaurants in Milwaukee area

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Lime prices are through the roof! They've shot up 600 percent! Customers are feeling the pinch at the grocery store and at the bar. The problem: There has been a lime shortage due to bad weather, disease and the Mexican drug cartel.

When you walk into Lucky Joe's Tiki Room, it's like stepping into a tropical oasis.

"It's an escape. A little bit dark, a little bit mysterious. From the bamboo to the puffer fish lights, it`s an experience you can`t get just walking in to any other bar," owner Lee Guk said.

The bar prides itself on ambiance and atmosphere -- and a long list of exotic drinks.

"A lot of the drinks are based on classic tiki cocktails," Guk said.

Guk says making those cocktails has become a bit more difficult.

"You`re talking lime juice being more expensive than the alcohol we`re putting in per ounce," Guk said.

Guk says he's paying more than $100 for a gallon of juiced limes.

"The prices keep rising and there`s no sign of it stopping coming soon. It still could get even higher," Guk said.

"Lime prices have gone up 600 percent in about four months. I've never seen anything like it," Rob Heotis with Pete's Fruit Market said.

At Pete's Fruit Market, they've watched the price of limes climb. A bad frost, coupled by a small crop has caused problems.

"They're producing half of what they usually produce in Mexico," Heotis said.

Reports say the drug cartel has started hijacking the limited supply.

"You hear all these rumors and stories and you just gotta laugh your way through," Heotis said.

No matter the reason, for now at Lucky Joe's, drinks will continue to be made.

"We`re trying to find that happy medium in between where we can still survive and not take too hard of a financial hit, but still give a quality product," Guk said.

Guk says bartenders have experimented with changing out the lime for a lemon in some cases -- and also garnishing with oranges.