Table of Contents
- Can Gin go bad?
- Can Gin Go Bad?
- How Long Does Gin Last?
- How To Store Gin?
- Does gin ever go bad?
- Storing tequila in the freezer?
- But First, Some Math
- Wine-O Pops
- Does Alcohol Go Bad? Yep, So Here’s How Long You Have To Finish Off Your Favorite Booze
- How long does a standard bottle of gin last?
- How long will infused alcohol last?
A proper Martini uses gin, not vodka. The more gin in the mix, the dryer it is. A lot of places will make the drink of pure gin, or just slosh a little vermouth around the glass then throw it out, but personally I believe you should have vermouth in there as well. Best option for dry vermouth? Martini. Yes, a little confusing; the vermouth is made by a company called Martini, and the cocktail is also called Martini (even if it sometimes contains no Martini vermouth). Anyway, here’s how I make them:
- Pour 20 ml dry vermouth and 80 ml gin into a cocktail shaker with some ice.
- Shake well until the shaker feels chilly in your hand.
- Remove the cap of the shaker and strain the mix into a martini glass.
- Garnish with an olive on a cocktail stick.
There’s myriad variations on the Martini and most of them are for girls, but here’s a couple of options you might like to consider. First, the Gibson – use a small silverskin pickled onion instead of an olive. Sandra Bullock drinks these in The Net, which is without a doubt the single coolest thing about that movie. Secondly there’s the Dirty Martini. My favourite; you sling a bit of that olive juice in there as well, and why not stick two or three olives on your cocktail stick instead of just the one?
A refreshing, light cocktail that can slowly but surely help a warm afternoon/evening pass very pleasantly. Some argue that it’s a bit old-fashioned but I think that’s part of it’s charm. It may be best to scale up the gin/juice/sugar part of this recipe and prepare it all in a mixer if you plan on having more than one.
- Pour 50 ml of gin and 25 ml fresh lemon juice (the juice of approximately a quarter lemon) into a shaker.
- Add a teaspoon of sugar (the finer the grains, the better) and shake thoroughly.
- Fill a Collins glass almost to the top with ice and pour the mixture over this.
- Top off with soda water and garnish with a lemon twist.
What’s a lemon twist? Well, you need to remove a little of your lemon skin. A cheese grater with big holes will do this, or you can do it carefully with a knife. You don’t want to get right down to the white pith, just get a 4cm strip of fresh lemon skin, then twist it just above your drink. This releases essential oils from the skin into the drink for a little extra flavour and aroma. Once you’ve twisted it, drop it in there and leave it.
So, that’s three staples to learn how to make, along with some essential skills to practice and some new terms to become familiar with. In later articles I’ll discuss other spirits and more advanced techniques. One last thing to remember; gentlemen may get merry but they do not get drunk and they definitely do not embarrass themselves. Please drink responsibly.
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Can Gin go bad?
This might sound stupid, but it’s a valid question that does come up from time to time: can gin actually expire or go bad? It’s at least worth investigating, because if the answer was yes then we’d want to know about it.
First things first, you won’t see an expiration date on a gin bottle, so that suggests that at least as long as the bottle hasn’t been closed then it’s not going to go bad. And this is broadly correct – as long as you don’t keep it on top of a radiator or sitting in a south-facing window. Basically, if you keep unopened gin away from sources of light and heat then it’s going to be ok. As long as you don’t drop it.
Alcohol is one of the best preservatives around – this has been an established fact for centuries. Admiral Nelson’s body was pickled in cognac to keep it preserved on the journey back to Blighty.
However, heat and light will cause chemical changes inside any bottle of gin, open or not, and heat in particular will cause evaporation of the alcohol – clearly a worst case scenario for any gin fan. A dark cupboard is best for unopened bottles; once you’ve cracked the seal there’s no reason not to keep your gin in the fridge, which has the added advantage of making your ice melt slower in the glass when you make your G&T.
Here are some storage recommendations to keep your gin’s aroma and taste as fresh as possible for as long as possible:
Store the gin unopened until you’re going to drink it (talk about stating the bleeding obvious)
Store your gin as cool as possible – the ideal temperature is around 6ºC.
Store gin in the dark to protect it from damaging UV rays.
If you haven’t been doing any of these things with your gin, don’t panic – it’s still fine to drink. Gin doesn’t go off and it’s still going to be absolutely safe to drink (in moderation, obviously). The worst that can have happened is that you’ve lost some flavour nuance, intensity or alcoholic strength, so it might taste a bit different from a freshly-opened bottle.
To answer our question, then: Can Gin go bad? Not really, but it can lose a bit of its lustre if it hasn’t been stored properly. Not an ideal scenario, but it’s not going to hurt you. And once the bottle’s open it will inevitably but slowly change in character – so don’t hang about.
Even though gin is one of the spirits, it often doesn’t feel like one. Fruity flavor and floral infusions aren’t things most people associate with spirits. And that’s why there are so many questions about this alcoholic drink. Obviously, the most often asked questions revolve around shelf life and going bad. Many people aren’t quite sure how long can gin sit in storage, or if an open bottle can go off. Of if the juniper-flavored drink requires refrigeration upon opening.
And those are perfectly valid questions. I mean with all the fruits and sometimes flower petals involved, it’s easy to forget that it’s still a distilled drink with a minimum of 37.5% ABV (75 proof) (). And that it’s not that much different from other spirits.
If you have any questions related to spoilage, shelf life, or storage of this popular cocktail ingredient, this article is for you. And the best way to start is to talk about spoilage.
(credit: Soul van Schaik )
Can Gin Go Bad?
So before you mix your gin and tonic or make your own Sloe gin, you want to make sure that your old gin is still okay to use. And asking if it’s even possible that gin goes off is a logical first step. Well, unless you go above and beyond to make it go bad, it won’t (). The high alcohol content is an excellent preservative, so gin, like its cousins such as rum or tequila, stays safe to drink pretty much forever. But that doesn’t mean that it will remain the same in terms of flavor or appearance.
Gin is often infused with fruits and flowers, and the resulting alcohol can be of various colors. However, those colors are organic, and they tend to fade over time (). So if your beautiful flower-petal-infused gin has turned pale, it doesn’t mean it’s off. It’s most likely because the color naturally faded. That’s why some gin producers recommend enjoying their product within a year or two. They know that the colors keep well for that period, and gin buyers usually prefer colorful drinks instead of pale ones.
Another thing, especially common for flower-infused gins, is that after some time there might be sediment at the bottom of the bottle. This sediment consists of botanical particles that weren’t filtered out. They’re perfectly harmless (), and you can drink up the last few drops.
Having said that, if it’s an old bottle, or opened for quite a few years already, and there’s anything off about the alcohol, like the color has changed significantly, or the smell is odd, toss it out. Such a situation is highly unlikely to happen, but you know, don’t drink that old gin right away just because “it can’t go bad.”
(credit: Jason Wong )
Of course, as I already hinted, gin won’t keep its quality forever, so I guess it’s time to talk about the shelf of this alcoholic drink.
How Long Does Gin Last?
Like, vodka, whiskey, and other spirits, gin doesn’t benefit from prolonged storage. In other words, it doesn’t get better with age. And I’m pretty sure you already knew that, or at least expected, after reading the section about gradual color fading. So, how long does gin last?
Unfortunately, it’s impossible to tell. If it’s a floral infusion, the color will probably start to fade within a year or two, even if the bottle remains unopened. And while the taste after opening will be perfectly fine, you will be missing out on a part of the experience. In short, if you care about aesthetics, try to start the bottle within a year of buying and finish within a few months. If what you value most is the taste, you can keep an unopened bottle for years. The gin’s flavor doesn’t change much over time, as long as it’s unopened.
Once you unseal the bottle, things change slightly. Evaporation and oxidation come into play. While the evaporation process goes at a snail’s pace (unless you keep it in a hot place), oxidation slowly alters the taste of the alcohol. If you want to see oxidation in action, pour some gin in a glass, leave it out overnight, and taste the next day.
(credit: Helen Thomas )
What does that mean for an opened bottle? That the better access to air the alcohol has, the quicker its taste will change. And the more oxygen in the bottle, the faster that process goes. So if you have an almost full bottle of gin, it will easily last years in good quality if stored properly. But if it’s only a few sips left in it, its flavor might degrade within a few months. In short, the shelf life of opened gin depends on how much alcohol is in the bottle, and it ranges from only months to decades.
Knowing all of that, let’s talk about the last part of the puzzle: storage.
How To Store Gin?
Storage of gin is no different than the storage of other spirits. A cool and a dark place is what you need (), so a dark cupboard in the pantry or kitchen is probably the best option. Of course, you can keep it in the fridge, but there’s little to no benefit to that. Unless, of course, you’re chilling it for the evening, so the ice cubes won’t melt that fast if you serve it on the rocks. When it comes to temperature, make sure the bottle sits in a place where the temp stays pretty even. Temperature fluctuation and direct sunlight negatively affect the quality of alcohol, both unopened and opened.
When it comes to storing gin after opening, not much really changes. Just remember always to keep the bottle sealed and follow the recommendations for unopened gin.
One trick you might find useful if it takes you ages to finish a bottle is to transfer the gin to a smaller one once the current one is less than half full. This way you slow down the oxidation process because there will be less oxygen in the small bottle than in the big one. Of course, it only makes sense to do that if you know that you will store that half-full gin for months on end. It won’t make much of a difference if you finish the bottle within a month or two.
In a Nutshell
- gin doesn’t really go bad, but it slowly degrades in flavor after opening
- many colorful floral and fruit infusions tend to turn paler over time, that’s normal and harmless to the alcohol
- keep it in a dark and cool place, away from direct light and heat sources
- Wikipedia: Gin
- Ink Gin: FAQ
- McLean’s Gin: FAQ
Does gin ever go bad?
Have you ever found an old bottle of gin, vodka or whisky in the bottom of your cupboard and wondered whether you should bin it or drink it?
Well, if stored correctly, your bottle will be safe to drink for many years. An unopened bottle of gin will remain unchanged. The only changes that might occur with an opened bottle of gin is that it will in time slowly evaporate and some of the flavour may disappear.
So how should you store your gin? The best way is in a cool, dry, dark environment and keep the bottle well sealed.
Storing gin in your fridge or freezer has nothing to do with extending the shelf life, but all to do with making the most of your gin and tonic. Gin should always be served cold, so the benefit of storing your gin in your fridge or freezer is that the ice in your drink will melt slower, resulting in less dilution to your gin and just in case you run out of ice, your gin will always be cold!
As a word of caution, it is always best to double check your gin before consuming. Pour a little into a glass and double check it’s aromas and appearance – if these seem ‘off’ then discard it!
Let’s be real: Everyone has a pretty old bottle of alcohol in their pantry. I do, you do, we all do—and, to be honest, I totally still drink mine. Maybe it’s a few years old, maybe it’s a few months old…I’m not exactly sure. But from time to time I find myself wondering, is it safe to be drinking this booze, or should I throw it out now and run to the ER?
OK so maybe that’s a little dramatic. Some alcohols have incredibly long shelf lives and others have shorter ones. These are the ones you should toss after a week, and the ones that will basically be good forever.
If you haven’t opened your bottle of spirits—whether it be gin, vodka, whiskey—Colin Spoelman, co-founder and master distiller of Brooklyn distillery Kings County Distillery, says that it will never go bad. Unlike wines and beers which are made with organic materials, spirits like whiskey don’t change in the bottle because they are distilled. As long as they remain unopened and don’t have any interaction with oxygen, he says they will be good to drink.
The only thing about an unopened bottle that may change is the color and aesthetic. Steven DeAngelo, founder of Brooklyn distillery Greenhook Ginsmiths, tells SELF, “What could happen over an extended period of time is that solids will fall out of suspension and the spirit will develop a cloudy look, but that doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with the product.”
After you open your bottle, the clock starts ticking—albeit very slowly. Spoelman says that many distillers will say you shouldn’t continue to drink from a bottle a year after it’s been opened, but he disagrees. He says that as long as the bottle is mostly full, it should still be fine to drink. When only a small amount of alcohol remains in the bottle, it will be subject to more oxidation, which he says can dull the flavor. These older, oxidized spirits however, won’t have any negative impacts on your health (aside from the fact that it’s alcohol). So, no—you probably don’t need to see a doctor after drinking five-year-old opened whiskey.
The best way to store your spirits after opening them? Try to keep them between 55 and 60 degrees F. “Every degree above 60 degrees F will cause the alcohol to expand,” DeAngelo explains, and that expansion will cause the alcohol to evaporate faster. If you don’t feel like worrying about your booze, Spoelman says you’re fine putting any kind of commercial spirit (something you might buy at the grocery store) in the freezer, but with artisanal varieties you’ll want to opt for that 55 to 60 degrees F sweet spot.
DeAngelo says that liqueurs, which are simply distilled spirits that are flavored with herbs, fruits, creams, and spices—things like Bailey’s, Aperol, and Cointreau—have pretty long shelf lives when they remain unopened. But after they’ve been opened, they expire a lot faster than spirits—you can thank the sugar in them for that. He recommends consuming liqueurs within 3 to 4 months of opening. “That’s kind of the standard for a liqueur that’s not made with any preservatives.” For storage, between 55 and 60 degrees F is your best bet.
“Wine is a little tricky because every wine is completely different,” Victoria James, sommelier and wine director at New York restaurant Piora, tells SELF. She says that easy drinking bottles of wine, ones that you might purchase from your local grocery store, should typically be consumed within the year of release—this applies to whites, reds, and rosés alike.
We think we make a pretty perfect G&T, but we’ve got bad news for all the gin fans out there… We may be storing our favourite spirit all wrong.
Turns out, if you’re not refrigerating it, you’re not doing it right.
Joanne Moore, Master Distiller for Greenall’s gin, revealed to us that gin is best served very cold, so we should be keeping it in the fridge, if possible.
‘Gin should be served nice and cold,’ she told us. ‘And if you don’t have any ice about, keeping your gin in the fridge, or putting it in the fridge before serving, will keep it nice and chilled.’
And if you’re lacking in fridge space, your freezer is fine too!
MORE: 7 MISTAKES THAT ARE RUINING YOUR GIN AND TONIC
‘Gin won’t freeze, given that it’s ABV (alcohol by volume) is 37.5%,’ she continued. ‘So storing it in the freezer is absolutely fine.’
And don’t worry if you’re not storing your gin this way… It doesn’t actually affect the quality of the spirit. It’s more about maximising the drinking experience.
‘Gin should never be drunk warm or at room temperature,’ Joanne said. ‘Unless it’s a hot toddy, of course!’
‘Serving gin very cold is a much better drinking experience. Reducing the temperature of gin helps softens the alcohol perception on the taste, making it much easier to drink and enjoy responsibly.’
So there you go! Make some room in your fridge for your gin collection, and you’ll be whipping out perfect-tasting G&Ts in no time. And if there’s simply no space, just remember to have lots of ice on hand!
MORE: THIS IS HOW YOU MAKE THE PERFECT G&T
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Last updated on April 8th, 2019
I’ve been storing all my liquor in my refrigerator and freezer but the bottles are taking up a lot of space. Is it OK to let them sit at room temperature once they’ve been opened and refrigerated? Can I just take them out of the refrigerator and stick them all in a cupboard somewhere, and they’ll still be fine?
Here’s an answer that will make you smile: Yes!
Store Hard Liquor at Room Temperature
There’s no need to refrigerate or freeze hard liquor whether it’s still sealed or already opened.
Hard liquors like vodka, rum, tequila, and whiskey; most liqueurs, including Campari, St. Germain, Cointreau, and Pimm’s; and bitters are perfectly safe to store at room temperature.
Photo: Casey Barber
Think about the last time you were out having a drink and saw all the bottles behind lined up in their nice, neat rows behind the bar. That’s where those bottles stay 24/7. The professionals don’t refrigerate them!
Essentially every liquor mentioned in this Bar Cart post on stocking your home bar—with the notable exception of already-opened vermouth—can and should be stored without refrigeration.
What to Store in the Refrigerator
Why is vermouth the exception that should be stored in the refrigerator?
Because vermouth is actually a fortified wine, even though it’s often not categorized that way in liquor stores.
And like regular wine, it will eventually oxidize, so it needs to remain in the fridge once it’s been uncorked.
Photo: Casey Barber
Vermouth and dessert wines like vin santo, ice wine, and the like thankfully have a longer refrigerator shelf life than their regular wine counterparts, and won’t turn vinegary and sour in the span of a few days.
But they will slowly start to lose their nuances of flavor, and after a few months—six, max—they’re probably goners.
Store Beer at Room Temperature
As for beer, guess what? It’s an urban legend that once a beer has been chilled, you can’t let it return to room temperature or it’ll be skunked.
As Binny’s, one of Chicago’s foremost beer retailers, says on its blog, “beer can go from fridge cold to room temperature and back to fridge cold with no ill effects.”
Photo: Casey Barber
So that case of Coors Light that a well-intentioned but taste-deficient friend brought to your last Super Bowl party doesn’t have to take up valuable fridge real estate until the next time the Steelers make the playoffs.
It can hang out in a cool, dark corner until desperate times call for desperate measures.
And while it seems like something as potent as vodka or whiskey will last forever, according to the experts, alcohol begins to evaporate and the chemical makeup of the spirit begins to deteriorate after it’s been open for 8 months.
For those of you who’ve been hanging on to that good bottle of bourbon for years, it’s time to get sipping.
Or you could just drink everything immediately and then you wouldn’t have to store it. I kid, I kid!
Storing tequila in the freezer?
Storing tequila in the freezer?
I doubt that storing tequila in your freezer will make it taste better, but under certain conditions it could preserve the great taste of tequila. Storing your liquor in general in a freezer is not a bad idea at all, but is only possibly necessary at certain times.
For the most part, there’s no need to refrigerate or freeze liquor whether it’s still sealed or already opened.
Hard liquors like vodka, rum, tequila, and whiskey; most liqueurs, including Campari, St. Germain, Cointreau, and Pimm’s; and bitters are perfectly safe to store at room temperature. Essentially every liquor mentioned in this Bar Cart post on stocking your home bar with the notable exception of already-opened vermouth can and should be stored without refrigeration.
That notable exception of vermouth I mentioned above is because vermouth is actually a fortified wine. And like regular wine, it will eventually oxidize, so it needs to remain in the fridge once it’s been uncorked. Vermouth and dessert wines like vin santo, ice wine, and the like thankfully have a longer refrigerator shelf life than their regular wine counterparts, and won’t turn vinegary and sour in the span of a few days. But they will slowly start to lose their nuances of flavor, and after a few months—six, max—they’re probably goners. – How Should I Store My Booze?
Like almost any other alcohol (besides some liqueurs), tequila should be stored in a cool and dry area. Therefore, the pantry seems to be the best possible choice, but if you don’t plan to open the bottle within the next few weeks or months, you can store it in the cellar (if there’s not enough space in the pantry). After opening the bottle please remember that you should always keep the bottle tightly sealed when not in use. Don’t ever store it with a pourer on or without its cap.
Tightly sealed bottle ensures two things. First – any impurities won’t be able to find their way into the bottle. Second – if the bottle stays opened without its cap, the liquid evaporates quicker than when it’s sealed. Because alcohol evaporates quicker than water, your tequila will slowly become milder with time (after opening the bottle for the first time).
When the bottle is less than half full and you won’t consume the rest of its contents within a couple of weeks, it’s a good idea to pour the liquid into a smaller bottle. More air in the bottle equals faster evaporation and oxidation, both of them causing the quality of tequila to slowly deteriorate.
The shelf life of tequila is indefinite if the seal remains undamaged. If not consuming your tequila in a relatively short time I would not hesitate to put it in the refrigerat
First thing that not everyone is familiar with is that spirits, unlike wines, don’t age after being bottled. That means that storing tequila for years won’t make its taste better. When it comes to shelf life of tequila, it’s basically indefinite, as long as its seal isn’t compromised. If you store an unopened bottle in the pantry for quite a few years now, you can be almost sure that it’s fine now and it should be of great quality. After the bottle is opened for the first time, it’s recommended to drink tequila within a couple of months, when its quality is still at its best.
With freezing temperatures be sure your bottles will not explode.
The average home freezer is about -17 C (-1 F). This is cold enough to freeze your food and ice, but not cold enough to freeze the average bottle of 80-proof liquor.
■ Storing your favorite bottle of vodka in the freezer is okay.
■ Placing that prized limoncello in the freezer for a quick chill is a good idea. What is the Freezing Point of Alcohol?
Alcoholic popsicles are a great concept but, thanks to ethanol’s low freezing point, it’s not as simple as throwing some booze into an ice pop mold and tossing it in the freezer. But don’t let that deter you from making fabulous frozen, boozy pops. All you need to do is pay attention to the ABV.
Below you will find general guidelines for working with beer, wine, and liquor, as well as some tasty recipes that I made just for you. All measurements are in “parts,” rather than units of volume, because I don’t know the volume of your popsicle molds, and it’s just easier to scale up this way. (And I know you’re going to want to scale up.)
But First, Some Math
To make an alcoholic ice pop that won’t slush out the moment you remove it from the mold, you’re going to want to aim for an overall ABV of 8%. Some beers fall under this threshold, so you are free to freeze those as is, but you’ll need to do a bit of math when working with the stronger stuff. Luckily, it is very easy math. Using the basic dilution formula that you may have learned in chemistry class, we can quickly find how much booze we can add to our popsicles:
where “C” stands for “concentration” and “V” stands for volume.
Since we know what we want our final concentration to be, we can just write in “8%” for C2. Let’s also go ahead and pick a final volume of 6 ounces for a popsicle, and we’ll say we’re trying to make a pop out of Hendrick’s which has an ABV of 44%. (Note: It’s very important that you keep the units of your concentrations consistent throughout your equation. Use either percent or proof, not both.) So now our equation looks like this:
where V1 represents the volume of liquor we are going to add to our pop.
Rearranging to solve for V1, we get:
Now, obviously 1.1 ounces is kind of annoying to measure out, so just round down to one ounce of liquor for five ounces of other liquid. Your pop will freeze just fine and there’s a whole shot of gin in there, which is great news all around. Anyway. I think that’s enough math for one day. Let’s make some freaking booze-sicles.
Unless you’re working with imperial styles (“imperial” just means “look how much alcohol we were able to fit into this beer!) most beers fall under out 8% ABV limit. This means you actually could just throw some beer in a mold and call it a day, but that’s not a ton of fun. Hot summer days always make me crave tart, fruity sours, so I grabbed a bottle of New Belgium’s Tart Lychee ale and went from there.
Sour Cherry Beer Pops
- Fresh cherries, pitted
- A good, tart sour beer with an ABV of no more than 8%
If you want to be fancy and make pretty lookin’ pops, slice a few cherries and set the slices aside. (6-8 slices is a good amount for a single pop.) Grab a handful of pitted cherries and puree them using a food processor, blender, or stick blender. Combine 1 part cherry puree with 4 parts beer and stir to combine, letting the beer fizz off and settle down. Stick some cherry slices down in your molds, and gently pour in your cherry-beer situation. Insert sticks and freeze overnight.
Alcohol content in wine varies from bottle to bottle, but I usually grab one with an ABV of 13-15%, so I can use the super easy ratio of half wine:half all of the other things. You can, of course, buy wine with a higher ABV, just make sure you use the dilution calculation above to figure out the appropriate ratio.
Rosé seems to be the official Wine of the Summer, so a rosé pop makes a whole lot of sense. The recipe below combines dry rosé with a sweet elderflower drink (I used the IKEA concentrate to whip one up) for a refreshing and flavorful popsicle that manages to feel very refined.
Elderflower Rosé Pops
- A dry rosé with an ABV not exceeding 15%
- IKEA elderflower drink concentrate
Prepare the elderflower drink per the instructions on the bottle and mix with an equal amount of rosé. Pour mixture into pop molds, insert sticks, and freeze overnight.
Lick Your Liquor
The biggest benefit to freezing your cocktails is that you can consume them while lying down on a pool floatie without worrying about spilling them all over your chest. The below recipe combines all of my summery favorite things: my bff gin, cool cucumber, and refreshing mint and lime.
Cucumber Mint Gin Pops
- 1 part gin (I use Hendrick’s because of that cucumber goodness)
- 5 parts limeade
- 4 fresh mint leaves
- Fresh cucumber, de-seeded and sliced into sticks
Throw your mint leaves in a glass with some gin and muddle the heck out of them. Strain the gin into a your limeade and stir to combine. Place cucumber sticks down in your mold horizontally and gently pour your gin-limeade mixture into the mold. Freeze overnight.
Of course, you are not limited to my recipes. Using the equation above, you are free to go forth and make frozen alcoholic delights from any booze you see fit. So dream big and get crazy, and remember not to take it all too seriously. Sometimes things just don’t freeze right, but that’s okay. Then you have an alcoholic slushy, and alcoholic slushies are nothing to complain about.
Photos by Claire Lower.
Does Alcohol Go Bad? Yep, So Here’s How Long You Have To Finish Off Your Favorite Booze
There’s a lot of misinformation out there about alcohol, which can lead to innumerable questions about drinking. Is tequila actually an upper instead of a downer? No. Will I really never get sick as long as I stick to one color of liquor? Again, no. Does alcohol go bad? Actually, yes — booze does go bad, so contrary to popular belief, you don’t have forever to finish off that bottle of sherry you inexplicably have stashed away in the back of your liquor cabinet.
It seems almost counterintuitive that alcohol should go bad, because the older an alcohol gets, the more expensive it tends to be. I mean, you even compare things to “fine wines” if they get better with age (or is that just a thing my dad says about my mom?). So, what’s all this nonsense about it going bad?
According to researchers at Bacardi (that is not a sentence I ever thought I would write), who presented their findings recently at the annual Tales of the Cocktail convention in New Orleans, everyday factors such as temperature fluctuations, light exposure, and oxidation can lead to rapid spirit denigration, which can pretty severely alter both the color and the flavor of alcohol stored in glass bottles. Basically, unless you’re drinking out of boxes (which I am, because Franzia is a food group), you’re drinking from glass bottles, which leave your precious booze vulnerable to flavor changes.
When wine and spirits age in wood barrels, their flavors mature and develop into the tastes you’ve come to recognize as “rum” or “whiskey” (also known as “Oh god, I didn’t even taste it mixed with that much lemonade and now I can’t walk” and “Smokey regret juice,” respectively). Once the barreling process has ended and the alcohol is placed in glass bottles, common lore would have you believe that the drink is finished changing flavors, which of course means that you can keep that bottle of Maker’s Mark in your liquor cabinet (or desk drawer) for as long as you’d like, right? Not so.
The Bacardi flavor scientists conducted a series of experiments on the effects of temperature fluctuations on its rum, and found that temperature changes can degrade an organic molecule called “terpene,” which alters the flavor of the alcohol. To try and combat this, Bacardi now ships rum in coolers or blankets (this is real, guys) in an effort to reduce temperature-based flavor changes.
Light, the scientists found, is actually an even bigger problem for liquor (which, incidentally, is also a huge problem for people the morning after they’ve consumed too much liquor) than heat. By exposing various glass-bottle-stored alcohols to UV radiation intended to simulate the effects of sunlight, the researchers found that over a period of 10-day exposure, bourbon lost 10 percent of its color and scotch lost 40 percent. But color is never just color: when it comes to alcohol, color changes are indicative of flavor changes.
The fina, and most potent factor the researchers touched up in their studies is air exposure, which leads to oxidation of your liquor. I mean, you knew this one, right? Once you open a bottle of something, you can’t just leave it there and expect it to stay good. This also brings us to an important lesson about commitment: don’t start a project (e.g., a bottle of Jack Daniels) if you’re not prepared to finish it. The researchers demonstrated this point by exposing bottles of gin to air for various lengths of time and then asking volunteers to taste test them. Needless to say, people did not care for the highly oxidized gin.
Now, it’s worth considering that this research was conducted by a major liquor brand. Is it possible that there’s a little bit of tactical “booze goes bad, so buy more booze!”-ing going on here? Of course. As Wired notes, it’s not peer-reviewed, published data — but it does give us a look at “what a big spirits company cares about.” Also, we already know that tons of things most people think can’t go bad do, in fact, have expiration dates; as such, this is all useful information anyway.
When people tell you that alcohol doesn’t go bad, what they mean to say is that it won’t make you sick (I mean, at least not for bacterial reasons). Microbes can’t survive in ethanol, which is why you put rubbing alcohol on cuts that you don’t want to get infected. But alcohol can go bad, in that it can start to taste like the devil.
Not sure how long your favorite booze will last? Here’s a handy guide:
If vodka is your spirit of choice, then congratulations on starting your freshman year of college or being Russian. The worst thing about vodka, arguably, is that it tastes like burning rather than anything discernible, but that’s also what makes it a highly stable alcohol that will keep almost indefinitely. An unopened bottle should actually stay the same, flavor-wise for many years. Once you open it, however, it will start to evaporate, so it won’t taste the same after, like, 10 years. Many companies, like Absolut, will recommend consuming vodka within two years of purchasing it.
Like vodka, whiskey has an almost indefinite shelf life if you leave it unopened and store it in a cool, dark place, but once you open it the rules of the game change. In order to best protect the flavor profile from oxidation, if you half a bottle or less left you should drink it within a year, and if you have less than a quarter of a bottle you have about three to four months before it gets questionable.
Tequila degrades quickly (as do I when I drink it) when it’s opened, so you’re going to want to drink it in the first two months after you crack it open to avoid oxidation and evaporation.
Think of rum like whiskey in terms of oxidation. In a cool, dark place, you can keep it almost forever, but once you open it, it’ll start degrading in about three months.
5. Bailey’s Irish Creme
Remember the first time you got drunk? Remember how much Bailey’s you drank because someone convinced you it would taste like “spicy chocolate milk”? It probably would have been good to know whether that bottle had been opened in the last year. Cream based liqueurs like Bailey’s should be thrown out 18 months after they’ve been opened, for safety reasons (microbes like cream just like you do).
Who on earth does not finish a bottle of champagne the night (afternoon) she opens it? If you don’t finish it for some reason, you better be prepared to slam it back in the next 24 hours or it’ll lose all its bubbly goodness.
Boubon is so high in alcohol that it’s even more stable than whiskey or scotch (the alcohols to which it is most frequently compared). Even opened, bourbon can taste pretty much the same after 10 years if you keep it out of the sunlight.
This one is more about taste than anything, because you will definitely be able to taste when your wine goes bad. It will start to taste like vinegar. Some older wines last one to two days once they’re opened, while younger wines can last up to two weeks in the fridge.
Images: Giphy (10)
How long does a standard bottle of gin last?
Ok, so we know most gin doesn’t go off (Gin Doesn’t Go Off), so there is no hurry to drink your gin in time for the next Gin Lane delivery.
However, if you do wish to plan your drinking needs, here’s our easy guide to how long your gin will last before you need another bottle.
Step 1 – ask yourself these questions:
- Who is drinking the gin?
- How am I drinking the gin?
- How often are we drinking the gin?
Got your answers? Here’s the facts!
- Standard gin bottles are 700ml
- The average bar serving is 25ml for a G&T or 50ml for a cocktail. Your average pour at home is likely to be a little more. Let’s be kind and say 35ml for a G&T…
That means you’ll get 20 G&Ts per month, or 10 gin cocktails. Maths not your strongest subject well here are a few stories from our members…
“My partner and I drink gin twice a week. On one night we might have only two G&Ts each and another night a single cocktail. Every week that’s at least 200ml of gin and over a month that’s more than a bottle. If you add in the fact we have friends and family over at least once per month, we are well into a second bottle.”
“We are a small business of 20 people and we have drinks every Friday. The gin is gone in week 2!”
“I don’t drink gin frequently, perhaps one G&T a week. I do a large one but I find that my gin is half empty after the month. I don’t mind as I want to build up a good stock of various gins. I sometimes have friends over, so that speeds up the process”.
You’d be surprised how quickly a bottle of gin can be consumed and you don’t need to become an alcoholic. In fact we thoroughly disapprove of binge drinking!
How long will infused alcohol last?
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