Before You Shake Up Your Next Cocktail: Does Alcohol Expire?
2024/02/23

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Picture this: you reach into the back of your or liquor cabinet only to find a dusty bottle of alcohol that you completely forgot about. Suddenly, an idea pops into your head—you can shake up one of your favorite ! Hey, it's 5 o'clock somewhere. 😄 But before you reach for the shaker, you might be wondering: Is this bottle of booze still good? And come to think of it, does alcohol ever really expire?

There are plenty of reasons why this common question might arise. Maybe you cut back on alcohol for or took part in dry January, and you're finally ready to make a . Or, you were gifted a bottle of wine that you've been saving it for a special occasion.

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Heck, you simply might not be a big drinker, but you're wondering whether or not alcohol expires. After all, hasn't it been fermented?

Well, the answer isn't as simple as you might think. In fact, it can depend on a bunch of different factors, like the type of alcohol, how it was stored, and if it's already been opened. Read on for everything you need to know.

Andrew Olifirenko

What is the shelf life of alcohol?

Alcohol is a preservative, so it's known for being shelf stable—especially if it's unopened. But depending on the other ingredients or sweeteners used to make it, an opened bottle of alcohol could eventually go bad or start to lose its flavor.

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To ensure your alcohol stays at its best, follow these tips for storing it properly:

Keep your bottle unopened, if possible, or tightly sealed Store at room temperature away from heat or direct sunlight. Stand bottles upright (not on their side like you would with wine).

Does liquor expire?

Liquors include categories like , whiskey, vodka, gin or rum—and they're generally known for having a high alcohol content. This means that they won't expire if they're unopened. Once opened, the alcohol is at risk of evaporation and should generally be consumed within one to three years. The exception for this is liqueurs and crème liqueurs (like

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), which contain added ingredients like dairy or sweeteners. Once opened, these bottles should be consumed within six months to a year—and don't forget to follow the bottle's label for instructions on storage!

Does beer or wine expire?

The Pioneer Woman Wine Rack

The Pioneer Woman Wine Rack

Wine gets better with age, right? Not exactly! Wine can actually go bad, especially if the bottle has been opened. That's when it starts to turn to vinegar. Red wines tend to last a bit longer than whites, but unopened bottles should be consumed within two to three years. (Note: Fine wines that are stored in a cellar can last up to 20 years!) For storage of your regular bottles, keep them in a cool, dark place. And unlike liquor, they should be stored on their side. (This prevents the cork from drying out.) Once opened, wines should be consumed within a couple of days. Keep the bottle tightly sealed in your refrigerator for best flavor.

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