Canned Cocktails Sadly Do Expire

Recent years have seen an explosion in high-quality canned cocktails among drinkers looking to enjoy more sophisticated beverages without the hassle of making a drink. While one of the best parts of canned cocktails is that they're ready whenever you are, they, unfortunately, don't last forever.

Figuring out how long they're good for is easy. Generally, each cocktail will have an expiration date stamped somewhere on the can. For example, the master distiller of Cutwater Spirits, one of the most well-known canned cocktail companies, tells Forbes his drinks are typically at their best for six months to a year. Most brands will typically be at their best for this amount of time or up to two years in some cases. These ranges are just general guidelines — the date on the can is still your surest and safest answer. Cocktails that are purely spirit-based will tend to last the longest, thanks to the lack of additional sugars and low potential for oxidation in canned items. 

For the best experience, don't wait

While you should drink your cocktails by the indicated date whenever possible, it's important to note that, in many cases, the dates are more about the quality of the beverage rather than safety concerns. While higher-alcohol concentrations help prevent bacteria (one should proceed with caution regardless), ingredients will degrade, and flavors will change over time, producing less-than-optimal drinking experiences.

Other canned alcohol typically has a similar timeline to enjoy at its best. For example, canned wine starts to degrade by the 18-month mark, while hard seltzers like White Claw will last about a year at peak. Canned beer is more varied, with some craft brewers advising you to drink up within as short as five months, while some experts say you can safely push it a year or slightly more without significant loss of quality. 

The timeline speeds up dramatically once you've opened your cocktail. From the moment you pop the top, you should typically consume it within a few hours at most. This is especially true for carbonated cocktails, which will rapidly lose their fizz. Other types can last up to a day if refrigerated in an airtight container. Now that you know canned cocktails won't last forever, it's time to enjoy them while they're at their best. If you're looking for a new drink to explore, you can check out our 20 best canned cocktails to try In 2023.