Even though liquor can outlast most humans, a lot of other ingredients on your bar are not so shelf stable. Most likely, if you’re suspicious that one of your cocktail ingredients is expired, it probably is. To save you from ruining a perfectly good drink, take note of these nine ingredients that have probably gone bad.
We hate to break it to you, but that ancient bottle of vermouth gathering dust in your liquor cabinet is most definitely expired. Not only does vermouth need to be refrigerated, but it only lasts for two to four weeks after it’s been opened. Toss those old bottles and buy new ones immediately if you want your Manhattans and Martinis to be drinkable.
Technically, sugar is a preservative, so your homemade cocktail syrups will be fine in the fridge for about six months—so long as you store them in airtight, sterile containers. But that won’t last forever, so check them often for sediment or unsightly particles floating around. And, as with anything in life, if something doesn’t smell right, it probably isn’t.
Whether you’re purchasing a quality orgeat or making your own DIY version, this tasty almond syrup is not going to keep indefinitely. When stored properly in the fridge, it’ll last a month or two. But as soon as it starts to smell funny or get moldy, throw that ish out.
There’s nothing sadder than opening your fridge to find a fresh bunch of cilantro that’s wilted, sad and soggy after only a week. Herbs in this condition will do nothing for the quality of your cocktails. Toss the old, buy a new bunch and heed our tips on how to store them properly for a longer shelf life.
Even though vinegar is one of the best preservatives in the world, a homemade shrub will probably start to smell extra funky after a couple months in the fridge. If it smells like vinegar and fruit, keep it around. If it smells rotten, toss it.
If you made something like coffee liqueur or rock and rye, chances are it will last for awhile on your bar shelf—especially if you used a high-proof spirit. But the flavor of these DIY projects will deteriorate over time. Taste them every month to make sure they haven’t turned before you accidentally serve a rancid pour to an unsuspecting house guest.
There’s no shame if you love the sugary taste of bright red maraschino cherries, so long as you consume them while they’re at the top of their saccharine glory. Unopened, a jar is good for three to four years. But if they’ve been sitting open in your fridge for more than six months, it’s time to toss and buy a new jar.
Whether you make your own juices or use the store bought stuff, an open container of juice won’t taste so great after about 10 days in the fridge. Pitch it and start anew.
Most carbonated sugar sodas are good months after the expiration date printed on the bottle, but they can start to lose flavor over time. The only way to know for sure is to crack open a bottle and taste the contents.