If you’re someone who appreciates a great homemade cocktail now and then (hey, we’re fans too), you’ve likely got a couple of bottles of booze in your freezer, a few on your bar cart, and are iffy on where to store the rest. Can alcohol go bad? What types of alcohol do you need to refrigerate? What’s the shelf life of that bottle of vermouth? We’re here to answer your questions and assuage your fears of alcohol spoilage with some professional advice.
Bitters 101: Everything You Need to Know About Cocktail Bitters
Your Bar Cart Looks Cute, but These Bottles of Alcohol Should Be in the Fridge
If you’ve ever left a bottle of re-corked wine on the counter for over a week, you know the despair of musty-smelling, funky-tasting booze. While you likely won’t get sick from taking a few sips of an open bottle of wine that’s been on the counter for a week, it definitely won’t taste its best.
So how do you know what deserves your precious fridge space? If you’re having trouble discerning between liquor that’s been distilled versus booze that’s been processed through timed fermentation, Montagano suggests a helpful blanket rule: If your booze is wine-based, or has under 15% alcohol, it’s worth keeping in the fridge. Here are some more specific guidelines for the common types of alcohol you may have on hand for sipping or spiking.Vermouth
“If you go to a dive bar and there’s Martini & Rossi on the bar, you know your negroni will be trash,” she adds. To know whether something has gone bad, be sure to taste a sip when you first open the bottle. It should be bright and complex. As it oxidizes, it will be flat and dull, and when it’s really bad, it could smell like a wet dog. This rule applies to any wine-based product.Sherry and Port
Because many aperitifs are wine-based or have more delicate herbal flavors, they all benefit from having a home in the fridge. French Lillet is a smoother floral, citrusy aperitif that you can drink on its own or in a Bond-approved Vesper martini. Lillet Rouge (red) will last the longest—up to a month refrigerated—while the Blanc and Rosé styles will only go for a few weeks in the fridge.
If you have a little Marsala or Madeira wine as an after-dinner drink, tuck it away in the fridge afterward. But If you’re planning on cooking with it (as in, you don’t require peak freshness for, say, chicken Marsala), you have a little wiggle room to let it sit for a month or two in the fridge. “The alcohol component is broken down and reduced, so as long as it isnt completely oxidized, cooking with it is probably fine,” Montagano explains. The flavor just won’t be as bright. (The same rule applies to that bottle of white wine sitting in the fridge for a few weeks—use it for clam sauce if it hasn’t turned!)Aperitifs Like Lillet, Cocchi Americano, and Campari