Two cocktail glasses in man and woman hands. Margarita and mojito cocktail

Climate change could spell the end for margaritas

Scientists say global warming from climate change is not only putting a strain on the agave plant, the key ingredient in tequila, but also the mammal that is the plant’s vital pollinator. Will they recover, or will the margarita become a thing of the past?

Climate crisis could impact tequila production in more ways than one

Climate change continues to have an adverse effect on food production and is now impacting wine and spirits, including the plant that makes tequila, the main ingredient in a margarita.

At risk is the agave, a succulent – which by definition are drought-resistant plants – which is closely related to the yucca. However, although the agave can tolerate drought, it cannot handle the weather whiplash that is currently manifesting from one extreme to another, from drought to torrential rains, KXAN reports.

Agave is the main ingredient in tequila and mezcal. In 2022, tequila was the fastest-growing alcohol in the spirits category, according to the Distilled Spirits Council of the US. Analysts predict that tequila could soon surpass vodka as the best-selling liquor in America.

Scientists are also concerned that the high demand for agave spirits is leading farmers into the practice of monoculture, reusing the same soil to grow a single crop, which in turn leads to a loss of genetic diversity.

Climate change affecting bats that pollinate agaves

It has long been known that climate change is having an impact on the most common food pollinators, such as bees and butterflies, but the disruption is also affecting bat populations. These flying mammals pollinate the agave plant as well as a number of other food crops.

However, the change in weather patterns is beginning to make it more difficult for bats to survive. The survival of these mammals is being threatened by their inability to tolerate heat as well as a lack of food.

Bees, butterflies, and bats pollinate roughly 30% of the food that ends up on our tables, CNN reported.

The Mexican long-nosed bat is the only species that pollinates the agave plant that tequila is made from. The species is currently threatened by habitat loss and has declined for several decades. In 1998, it was listed as endangered by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service and listed as threatened in Mexico. It is found in southern Texas, Arizona, and New Mexico from June through August and in central Mexico for the remainder of the year.

Unlike other bats that feed on insects, it chiefly consumes pollen and nectar.