How long are amaros good for?

Amaros are Italian herbal liqueurs that have become increasingly popular cocktails ingredients in recent years. With their bitter-sweet flavor profile, amaros can add depth and complexity to a variety of mixed drinks. However, with their herbaceous ingredients, many drinkers wonder just how long an opened bottle of amaro will last before it goes bad. Here’s what you need to know about the shelf life of amaros.

What are amaros?

Amaros are Italian herbal liqueurs that get their flavor from infusing alcohol with a secret blend of roots, herbs, flowers, bark, and citrus peels. The resulting liqueur has a distinctive bitter-sweet taste. Amaros are considered a sub-category of Italian bitters, alongside similar liqueurs like Campari and Aperol. Some of the most popular brands of amaro include:

  • Averna – Made from herbs, roots, and citrus from Sicily.
  • Cynar – Artichoke and herbal flavors.
  • Fernet-Branca – Bold minty, bitter profile.
  • Montenegro – Sweet and citrusy orange flavors.
  • Ramazzotti – A blend of 33 herbs and spices.

Amaros originated as digestifs, thought to aid digestion after heavy meals thanks to their herbal ingredients. They are still often drunk as after-dinner drinks in Italy. However, in recent decades, amaros have become popular cocktail ingredients around the world. Their complex and bittersweet taste can enhance many mixed drinks.

How are amaros made?

The recipes and processes used to make various amaros are closely guarded secrets, but some general information is known about their production. Most are made by macerating herbs, roots, spices, bark, flowers, and peels in a neutral alcohol base. The ingredients are allowed to infuse into the spirit for a number of weeks before being filtered and sweetened. Sugar, caramel, and sometimes vanilla are added to balance out the bitter herbal flavors. The amaro is then rested in tanks or casks for a period to allow the flavors to marry before bottling.

Amaros have an alcohol content between 16% to 35% ABV. While the flavor ingredients vary between brands, some commonly used botanicals include:

  • Gentian – For bitterness
  • Wormwood – Adds earthy, sharp notes
  • Angelica – Provides musky hints
  • Rhubarb – Contributes tartness
  • Anise – Supplies licorice notes
  • Mint – For a cool, fresh finish

The inclusion, proportions, and sources of the herbs, roots, and spices will impact the final flavor profile of the amaro. Master distillers use generations of tradition and expertise to craft the perfect blend.

How should amaros be stored?

Like any liqueur, amaros should be stored properly if you wish them to retain their quality and flavor over time. Here are some amaro storage tips:

  • Store out of direct sunlight – Light can degrade amaro’s flavors and change its color over time.
  • Keep at room temperature – Temperature fluctuations can negatively affect taste.
  • Store upright – Keeps the cork moist and the seal tight.
  • Keep tightly sealed – Minimizes oxidation and evaporation.

A cool, dark cabinet or liquor closet is ideal. Refrigeration is not needed, unless you live somewhere extremely hot. As long as stored properly away from light, heat and moisture, an unopened bottle of amaro will keep well for many years.

How long does an opened bottle of amaro last?

Once opened, the clock starts ticking on an amaro’s freshness. Exposure to oxygen starts an oxidization process that can gradually degrade the quality and taste over time. Here are some guidelines on opened bottle shelf life:

  • 2 – 4 months – Most amaros will taste fresh and optimal in this window.
  • 6 months – Many amaros will still retain good flavor at this point.
  • 1 year – Higher alcohol amaros may still taste decent here.
  • 1+ years – Quality significantly declines, discard bottle.

These timeframes can vary based on storage, the specific amaro, and your individual tastes. Keep the following factors in mind if storing an opened amaro bottle:

  • Keep away from light and heat – Speeds undesirable oxidization.
  • Store sealed at room temp – Stopper tight and keep upright.
  • Monitor flavor – Taste occasionally, oxidization degrades taste.
  • Use quicker for more delicate amaros – Lighter or fresher styles deteriorate faster.

With optimal storage and care, an opened bottle of amaro can maintain its quality and taste for several months to a year. But remember to monitor the flavor periodically for any off tastes.

Signs your opened amaro has gone bad

How can you tell if that opened bottle of amaro in your bar has expired? Here are some signs to look for:

  • Change in color – If the liqueur darkens or changes hue, it could be oxidized.
  • Cloudiness – Particles or haziness points to contamination.
  • Weakened aroma – The smell becomes flat or off.
  • Off tastes – Stale, musty, or unpleasant new flavors.
  • Texture change – Becomes syrupy or loses viscosity.

A spoiled amaro won’t necessarily make you sick, but it certainly won’t taste pleasant. You’re better off discarding the bottle if you notice any of the above issues.

Does amaro go bad?

Yes, amaro can go bad, but enjoy it within the recommended time period and store it properly, and it will stay fresh and delicious. With an unopened bottle stored optimally, amaro has a very long shelf life. Opened, it has a shorter but still decent lifespan of 2 months to a year. Monitor opened bottles closely near the end of that range.

The high alcohol content of amaro helps preserve it, but it can still oxidize and deteriorate in flavor. As with any food and drink, trust your senses – if the color changes or the aroma and taste seem off, the amaro has probably expired. When in doubt, remember it’s better to dispose of a spoiled bottle than risk drinking bad amaro.

Tips for maximizing amaro’s shelf life

Here are some pro tips for keeping both opened and unopened bottles of amaro fresh for as long as possible:

  • Buy smaller format bottles – Less air inside means slower oxidization.
  • Use argon gas wine preservers – Displaces oxygen from opened bottles.
  • Store amaro collection in a wine fridge – Cool, dark, stable environment.
  • Keep only 1-2 bottles actively in use – Less open time means less exposure.
  • Rebottle amaro leftovers – Keeps air out of partly used bottles.

With smart storage methods and care, it’s possible to enjoy amaro for 1-2 years or more before deterioration becomes an issue. Remember to always smell and taste occasionally as the months pass to catch any changes early.

What’s the best way to use up amaro nearing its end?

No one wants to waste a bottle, even if the amaro inside has seen better days. Here are some great ways to use up amaro that’s getting past its prime:

  • Cocktails and mixed drinks – Other ingredients can cover up flaws.
  • Cooking and baking – Adds depth and enhances other flavors.
  • Amaro cream liqueur – Blend with cream liqueur and sugar.
  • Barrel aged amaro – Repurpose in a small barrel for an aged variation.
  • Infuse vinegars or oils – Imparts amaro’s herbal notes.

With creativity, you can transform amaro that’s oxidizing into tasty culinary ingredients. Don’t feel like you need to toss out a bottle the moment it passes its ideal drinking window.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does unopened amaro expire?

An unopened bottle of amaro has an exceptionally long shelf life. Stored properly away from light and heat, it can last for many decades without deteriorating. As long as the seal remains intact, the high alcohol content preserves the amaro.

Should amaro be refrigerated after opening?

Refrigeration is not necessary. The ideal storage temperature for opened amaro is room temperature, around 60-68°F. The fridge can cause condensation and temperature fluctuations that degrade amaro faster. Just keep the bottle tightly sealed.

Can amaro be frozen?

Freezing amaro is not recommended. The freezing process and temperature variations can negatively affect the flavor. Thawing may also lead to separation. It’s best to store amaro at a stable room temperature.

Do all amaros have the same shelf life?

Shelf life can vary slightly between amaro brands and styles. Sweeter, gentler amaros may expire faster when opened compared to drier, bolder ones with higher alcohol. But in general, all amaros follow similar timelines, lasting 2-4 months when opened.

What’s the best way to tell when amaro goes bad?

The most reliable way is with your senses – sight, smell and taste. Look for changes in color, cloudiness or texture. Give it a sniff for any weakening or off odors. Most importantly, sample a small taste – you’ll know right away if the flavors seem stale or unpleasant.


With their breadth of herbaceous flavors, amaros are liqueurs worth savoring. Properly stored, an unopened bottle can stay fresh for many years. Once opened, limit light and oxygen exposure and enjoy it within 2-4 months for optimal quality. Monitor aroma and taste closely as you reach the outer limits of amaro’s shelf life. With some care, it’s possible to maximize amaro’s lifespan and avoid wasting a drop of this rich Italian digestif.

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