Spring has finally poked its head above ground after way too many April snow storms, and that means it’s time to do some spring cleaning—including your bar. There are plenty of things you might have picked up that have actually gone bad at this point, (in case we haven’t hammered it home enough yet, that bottle of vermouth has probably turned if you aren’t keeping it in your fridge), but there are also items you acquired over the last year that are more mess than mixer. Survey your bar, take each item in your hand, think about it, feel its energy and check this list. If your bar has these things on it, you should immediately chuck them or pour them down the drain.
If it’s a bottle and...
The liquid inside is a color that does not occur in nature
It’s not that every single bright blue, bright green or neon orange alcohol is gross—it’s just that most of them are. The use cases for these bottles are limited and most can be replaced with better or more versatile spirits (try replacing your blue curaçao with a dry orange liqueur like Combier, for example).
There are only two shots left
If it is less than a quarter full, you only have about three or four months to finish it before whatever is left starts to oxidize. Finish it up and recycle that bottle. Right now.
It should have been in the fridge
The list of cocktail ingredients that absolutely must be refrigerated is not all that long (and you’re probably refrigerating things like juice and eggs already), but If you forgot to refrigerate a bottle of simple syrup or fortified wine, even for just a week, the safest course is to toss it.
You bought it for a party that happened last year and you haven’t used it since
If you purchased a bottle for your Bones series finale party, it is almost certainly not a rare single malt that you need to cling to like a family heirloom. Whatever it is, it is probably a fine spirit that would make for some adequate drinks, but nothing more. So use it up and make space for something new.
If it’s a tool and...
You haven’t used it in the last six months
We all buy things that seem like a good idea at the time that ultimately just end up gathering dust in our kitchen drawers. If it turns out you aren’t interested in chiseling your own ice spheres or always go to your kitchen peeler to cut a citrus garnish, then it’s safe to lose that pick and bar knife.
It only makes one kind of drink
We’re looking at you, Navy Grog Cone Kit. The kitchen gadgets Alton Brown made famous as “unitaskers” exist in the bar world too, and you might have ended up with a few. They are excellent candidates to give to your friend at work who is “just getting into this mixology stuff.”
You have multiple versions of it
It’s surprisingly easy to end up with two citrus squeezers, four strainers or 29 jiggers. Slim down your holdings and just keep one of every item.
If it’s a glass and…
It is V-shaped
If you haven’t switched from the Martini glass to the infinitely better, more attractive and easier to use coupe, this is your chance. Take those unwieldy Martini glasses and toss them in the recycling bin. Or, if you’ve ever wanted to feel like you’re in an honest to goodness bar fight, smash them on the ground at your next party.
You got it in college
It’s time to graduate to something else. This doesn’t mean you need to give up drinking games and Jello Shots, but as a real adult, you don’t need branded shot glasses in your life anymore.
You have no idea what it is or why you would use it
Look at that glass. Can you say its name? You can’t? Then get rid of it. If you don’t know what a glass is called or what it’s for, then you’re almost certainly not using it enough/at all. Not everyone needs half a dozen different vessels for their alcohol, and you may be one of those people.