For years now, I’ve been watching friends and strangers alike make the same mistake and it needs to stop.
Of course, I’m referring to the clumsy, inelegant way most folks add a lime wedge to a bottle of cold—typically Mexican—beer.1 Applying a hunk of citrus to a refreshing, light beer is a quick and easy way to make it taste awesome, but it’s all for naught when improper technique is employed.
Here’s how most folks do it.
How to improperly lime a beer
- Squeeze the lime lightly somewhere near the top of the bottle
- Jam the partially-squeezed wedge into the the bottle opening like a frickin’ animal
- Shove the lime through the neck of the bottle using whichever of your fingers will fit, or maybe a piece of flatware
- Make a feeble attempt to enjoy the improperly-lime’d beer
There are several problems with this “method” (if you could even call it that):
- Unless you’re being extremely careful—which is damn near impossible after you’ve had a couple of the aforementioned beers—you’re going to squeeze a non-trivial portion of the lime juice onto the table, the outside of the bottle, or your fingers.
- After installation, the lime wedge is probably situated at the base of the neck of the bottle, so much of your drinking experience is going to spent loathing your little citrus nemesis because you can’t take a swig without the lime partially blocking the beer’s path to your thirsty maw.
- The delicious pulp from the lime is still attached to the lime skin where it does zero good.
- You’ve failed to properly distribute the lime juice throughout the beer, so your first drink is going to be most of the lime juice.
“I can’t believe I’ve been living such a lie for so long. Please, good sir, show me the way!”
How to properly lime a beer
This section presupposes some things:
- The lime you have is juicy. If it’s not, acquire a juicy lime or drink something that doesn’t require a juicy lime.
- You have access to a sharp knife with a sharp point; a paring knife or a steak knife will do, but don’t try to use a table knife because it won’t work. This knife is the one we have and it works great.
- Your lime wedge is the proper size and shape; it should fit halfway through the bottle opening before you squeeze it.
Once you’ve got those ducks in a row, proceed with the knowledge that a perfectly lime’d beer awaits you in a few seconds.
Take your knife and slice sideways through the center of the flesh, but stopping before you cut the skin. It should look like this:
Next, gently grip the lime so it doesn’t slide off of the knife and hold the whole mess at a slight angle (with the lime skin on top) above the bottle opening with the tip of the knife slightly inside the bottle, like so:
Gently and slowly squeeze the lime until you’ve extracted every last drop of juice. Some of the juice will necessarily will spray onto your hands and/or away from the bottle, but if you’re careful, it won’t be much. Assuming your knife is properly positioned, the juice will run down the blade and into the bottle.
Gently slide the lime wedge toward the tip of the knife and remove it. Don’t cut the skin. This will reclaim any juice and pulp still left on the blade because we’re going to use every part of the frickin’ buffalo here, kids.
Take the squeezed lime wedge, straighten it out, then curve it into a something that looks like a canoe. If the wedge is the proper size, it should fit easily down the neck of the bottle now that it’s been relieved of most of its flesh and juice. If necessary, push it down the neck of the bottle as far as you can (and cut a smaller lime next time).
(Note: this next part could prove disastrous if done incorrectly and takes some practice to get right. Pay attention and don’t rush it or you’ll end up wearing both a frown and part of your beer.)
Take your thumb—or any other digit with enough girth to properly seal the top of the bottle—and jam it into the bottle so neither air nor liquid can get in or out. Then gently flip the bottle over so the now-plugged opening is down and the bottom is, as they say, up. Watch the lime wedge gently float to the bottom of the bottle. Once it’s there, gently turn the bottle back over. Wait a couple of seconds, then remove your thumb. Beware that a little bit of beer will spray from the bottle top as you remove your thumb.
That last bit accomplishes two things:
- It mixes the lime juice into the beer
- It properly orients the lime such that it doesn’t ruin your drinking experience by clogging up the neck the whole time like a jerk.
An optional final step would be to drink enough beer to clear the neck of the bottle to further ensure that the lime wedge doesn’t inhibit future swigs.
And, with that, you’re ready to enjoy a properly lime’d beer. Cheers, friends.