Ask Casey: How Should I Store My Booze?

Casey Barber

by Casey Barber on August 12, 2013

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?


Ask Casey: Cooking and Kitchen Questions AnsweredHere’s an answer that will make you smile: Yes! 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.

In college, I always stored vodka in my freezer because that’s what I’d seen everyone else doing. Poor, naive Casey. Really, it’s only necessary to keep a bottle of vodka frozen if you’re in the habit of doing straight-up chilled vodka shots, and the only time I’ve done that in recent history is under duress (and after a few glasses of Champagne) at a friend’s wedding. I do, however, keep my limoncello in the freezer, because those chilled shots go down much easier.

a well-stocked bar, via goodfoodstories.com
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.

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.” 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!

the Campbell Creamsicle, via goodfoodstories.com

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Amber | Bluebonnets & Brownies August 12, 2013 at 9:39 am

This is a great post with one glaring problem. Now that I’m smarter about my booze, who the heck is going to come clean out my bar? *Looks at Casey*

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Casey Barber Casey Barber August 12, 2013 at 9:40 am

OK, OK, Amber – twist my arm. I have a feeling I might find a bottle or two of elderflower liqueur in your bar.

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Stephanie August 13, 2013 at 8:35 pm

I store my booze… IN MAH BELLY. Then I shuffle the ethanol off to my liver, with the carbs defaulting straight to my ass. :/

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WINO August 14, 2013 at 4:29 pm

Boy, I have some VO and Crown Royal from 1969. Think it is still good? My friends still drink it and think it is pretty good stuff.

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stephchows August 15, 2013 at 4:38 pm

I fully admit I keep vodka in the freezer for your exact same reasons… awesome. LOL guess I can take that bottle out :)

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