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How To Store Liquor at Home

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!

whiskey ginger cocktail
Photo: Casey Barber

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.

The classic gin gimlet cocktail contains two ingredients: gin and lime cordial. But let's up the ante with homemade cordial and a dash of citrus bitters. #gimlet #gincocktails
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 post on stocking your home barwith 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.

A red wine spritzer made with homemade sour mix is a refreshing change of pace from the usual rosé.
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.”

great beers to be drinking outside for a summer party, via www.goodfoodstories.com
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.

Pickled Surfer cocktail
Photo: Casey Barber

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!

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6 Comments

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

  1. 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.

  2. I am Swiss, but I am often in Russia on business. The proper way to drink vodka in Russia is to have it from the freezer with no mixers; usually served with smoked salmon, caviar, and some nice bread.

    Drinking it from the freezer is also the standard in much of Scandinavia. Keep in mind the Absolut ice bar in Sweden. So I follow this standard in Switzerland and keep my very nice vodkas (Beluga Noble right now) in the freezer.

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