How Long Does Alcohol Last After You Open The Bottle?

Feeling a little thirsty, but it's slim pickings in your booze stash? You've got a dusty bottle of whiskey your co-worker gave you for Christmas years ago that you do a shot of only on special occasions. Maybe you bought way too much vodka to get you through the dumpster fire that was 2020. (You're not alone if you turned to alcohol to get you through the pandemic lockdowns, civil unrest, and the attempted upheaval of the federal government. In a February 2021 survey by the American Psychological Association, one in four adults in the United States said they drank more in 2020 to deal with stress.) In the fridge, there's a half bottle of wine from last week's brunch and a couple of bottles of beer with the caps jammed back on.

Should you fill up your red Solo cup or make a run to the liquor store?

Alcohol doesn't go bad the way food does. Whether old alcohol is enjoyable — or merely drinkable — depends on how long it's been since you first opened the bottle.

Hard liquor can last for years after opening; wine and beer have a short shelf life

You won't get sick if you drink old liquor, but you'll definitely notice a difference. Once you crack open a bottle, alcohol begins to evaporate, and air changes the flavor. That beer may have gone flat. The wine may taste like vinegar — or maybe you can trick your taste buds into thinking you're drinking a thick, sweet mead.

According to Lifehacker, your pandemic panic vodka will last up to a decade, but you might want to consider knocking back that whiskey a little faster. Whiskey starts losing its kick two years after opening. Both spirits will experience some evaporation and flavor degradation as time goes on. Wine remains drinkable two to five days after opening. If it's been longer, you should use the old wine in cooking. Beer fares the worst: You should drink that brew within a few hours or a day after you pop the top. As for Everclear? Just stay away from it altogether.

Your alcohol will inevitably turn funky, but proper storage can prolong its freshness. Lifehacker recommends storing bottles upright to avoid flavor loss and cork damage. You can also "decant" liquor and wine into smaller bottles to keep air from entering. A rubber stopper or vacuum pump can keep beer fresh for three days. Or — if you're desperate — a tightly-sealed glass jar.