Is it bad to drink old opened alcohol?

Alcohol that has been opened and stored over time can undergo changes in quality, taste, and safety. However, with proper storage techniques, opened alcohol can remain good to drink for quite a while. Here are some quick answers about the shelf life of different types of opened alcohol:


Opened beer will usually taste best within 3-5 days if refrigerated. After a couple weeks in the fridge, beer can start to develop off-flavors. If stored at room temp, opened beer only lasts 1-2 days before going flat.


An opened bottle of wine can last 3-5 days when refrigerated. Fortified wines like port, sherry, and vermouth can last up to a month when stored properly. Wine quality steadily decreases over time, but is usually still drinkable after 5-7 days.


Opened liquor like vodka, rum, tequila, and whiskey have the longest shelf life of all alcohol. Without any added ingredients, distilled liquor doesn’t go bad for many years after opening. The taste and aroma may fade over the first year, but liquor stays safe to consume indefinitely.

Mixed Drinks and Cocktails

Any mixed drink with added ingredients like juice, sodas, syrups or dairy have the shortest shelf life after opening. Store refrigerated and consume within 2-3 days. The additional ingredients can spoil or take on an unpleasant taste.

Should you drink old alcohol if the taste changes?

It’s generally safe to drink alcohol past its “best by” date, even if the taste changes noticeably. However, if the alcohol develops off-putting odors like sour, rotten, or skunky smells, it’s best to err on the side of caution and pour it out. A bad smell can indicate the alcohol has spoiled and may cause illness if consumed.

Can old opened alcohol make you sick?

Older opened alcohol is unlikely to contain enough microbial growth to make you sick immediately. However, some personal tolerance factors come into play. People with suppressed immune systems and chronic illnesses need to be more cautious about drinking older alcohol. If you have negative side effects like headaches, nausea, or digestive issues after drinking an aged alcohol, your body may be telling you it’s no longer safe to consume.

Does alcohol lose its potency as it ages after opening?

The alcoholic potency of beer, wine, and spirits remains stable after opening. This is because alcohol’s chemical structure does not change significantly over time. An alcohol that was 40% ABV when first opened will remain around 40% ABV years later. However, the original flavors and aromas can fade.

Can you get food poisoning from old opened alcohol?

It’s highly unlikely to get food poisoning or infections solely from old alcohol. Distilled spirits like vodka and whiskey are sterile when bottled and do not support pathogenic microbial growth. Beers and wines contain some microbes used in fermentation but not at dangerous levels. The only risk would come from additives like juices or dairy in cocktails that can spoil and cause illness.

What’s the shelf life of an opened bottle of whiskey?

An opened bottle of whiskey has an indefinite shelf life. Over time, the flavors and aroma can fade noticeably. However, the alcohol itself never spoils or goes bad. Higher quality whiskeys may retain their taste for up to 10 years or longer after opening when stored properly. Once a whiskey is opened, try to use within 2 years for best flavor.

How long does red wine last after opening?

With proper refrigeration, an opened bottle of red wine will stay drinkable for 3-5 days before the quality declines noticeably. Fuller-bodied reds like Cabernet tend to last a little longer, around 5-7 days. Lighter reds like Pinot Noir are best within 3-4 days of opening. Fortified reds like port can last 4 weeks or longer after opening.

When does opened champagne go bad?

The quality of opened Champagne and other sparkling wines declines rapidly. The carbonation dissipates quickly once exposed to air, and the aromas become less vibrant. Drink Champagne within 2-3 days at most for the best experience. Flat and stale Champagne is still safe to consume, but the taste suffers.

Can old wine make you sick?

It’s highly unlikely you would get sick solely from drinking old wine. However, wine that has been open for over a month and has a foul, vinegary smell could cause digestive upset, headaches, or other side effects. If the wine tastes unpleasant, it’s best avoid drinking it.

Is it bad to mix old and new alcohol?

There are no risks to mixing aged alcohol with a fresh bottle. However, the resulting taste may be undesirable. A new vodka mixed with an old opened vodka will take on some of the faded aromas. Combining old wine and fresh wine can make the fresh aromas dissipate faster. For best flavor, avoid mixing old alcohol with new.

Can expired beer make you sick?

Drinking expired beer past its freshness date is generally not dangerous, but it may not taste great. Old beer typically develops off-flavors like wet cardboard or skunky aromas. As long as it doesn’t smell rotten, sour or vinegary, an expired beer won’t make you sick. However, its best to drink the beer while it’s still fresh for optimum flavor.

What happens if you drink spoiled wine?

Drinking wine that has spoiled from oxidation or refermentation can cause temporary digestive distress like bloating, stomach cramps, or headache. The high acidity and alcohol content allow wine to avoid dangerous microbial contamination. Unless the wine contains visible mold, drinking a spoiled wine is very unlikely to cause serious illness.

Can old vodka make you sick?

Vodka that was opened years ago won’t make you sick, even if the taste and aroma have faded significantly. The high alcohol content prevents any microbial growth. Old vodka may cause more severe hangovers due to the increased concentrations of congeners that can form over time. But it won’t be toxic or dangerous to drink aged vodka.

How long does Baileys last after opening?

The shelf life of Baileys and other cream-based liqueurs is quite short after opening. Store opened Baileys in the refrigerator and consume within 6 months. Over time, the dairy ingredients can curdle, spoil, and take on a rancid odor. Once Baileys separates and looks curdled, it should be discarded.

What happens if you drink old Baileys?

Drinking Baileys or other cream liqueurs past their prime is not dangerous, but it can cause unpleasant digestive side effects. As the dairy spoils, it forms bacteria that can lead to gas, bloating, stomach cramps, and diarrhea. The best practice is to refrigerate cream liqueurs after opening and finish the bottle within 6 months.

Does liquor expire?

Distilled spirits like vodka, whiskey, rum, and tequila do not have an expiration date or go bad in the traditional sense. Over time, opened liquor can degrade in quality, aroma, and flavor. But the alcohol itself remains stable and safe to consume indefinitely when stored properly. Liquor has an indefinite shelf life.

Can old vodka hurt you?

Vodka that has been open for many years can cause worse hangovers but is still safe to consume. The alcohol itself does not degrade. But congeners and other byproducts that can form over time may give some people worse hangovers. As long as old vodka does not smell or taste rancid, it will not cause harm.

Is it bad to drink expired liquor?

Out of date, expired liquor does not pose any health or safety risks if consumed in normal quantities. While liquor does not truly expire, its flavor and aroma decline over time after opening. Expired liquor may not taste as good, but the alcohol is still safe to drink even decades after the bottle was first opened.

Can old rum make you sick?

Aged rum is less likely to make you sick than fresh rum. As rum ages in the bottle, volatiles that can cause hangover symptoms evaporate over time. Old rum may have less vibrant flavor but won’t be harmful. Due to rum’s lack of added ingredients, it does not spoil or go bad after being opened.


The shelf life of opened alcohol varies widely depending on the type of beverage. Spirits like whiskey and vodka remain stable and safe to consume indefinitely. Fermented beverages like wine and beer decline in quality over days to weeks after opening. And mixers with dairy or juice can spoil in hours to months. While old alcohol can lose its flavor and aroma, it very rarely causes illness on its own when consumed in moderation. Storing opened containers properly, checking for off odors, and drinking old alcohol cautiously can help avoid any issues.

Guidelines for Storing Opened Alcohol

Here are some general guidelines for maximizing the shelf life of different types of opened alcoholic beverages:

Type of Alcohol Proper Storage Shelf Life after Opening
Beer Refrigerate, keep tightly sealed 3-5 days
Wine Refrigerate, re-cork 3-5 days (up to 2 weeks for fortified)
Champagne Refrigerate, keep sealed, inverted 2-3 days max
Distilled spirits Store in cool, dark place, reseal Indefinite shelf life
Liqueurs Refrigerate, reseal 6-12 months
Cocktails/mixers Refrigerate, keep sealed 2-3 days

Tips for Drinking Old Opened Alcohol

If you plan to consume a bottle of alcohol that has been opened for a while, here are some tips:

  • Inspect the beverage visually. It should not contain mold, sediment, floating particles, or separation.
  • Smell the beverage. It should not have strong off odors like sour, skunky, or rotten smells.
  • Taste a small amount. Flavors should not taste terribly deteriorated or vinegary.
  • Start with a smaller serving. See how your body responds before consuming a full glass.
  • Mix with fresh ingredients. Blending old liquor with new mixers can mask undesirable flavors.
  • Use older alcohol for cooking. Adding alcohol to recipes can prevent waste.
  • When in doubt, pour it out. Trust your senses. Old alcohol with foul odors or flavors should be discarded.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does liquor go bad?

No, liquor does not go bad in the traditional sense. The distillation process creates a shelf-stable spirit that can last indefinitely after opening. Liquor may fade in flavor but does not spoil or become dangerous to drink.

How long can you store an open bottle of wine?

An opened bottle of wine will stay fresh and drinkable for 3-5 days when stored properly in the fridge. Dry wines last a little longer than sweeter wines. Fortified wines like sherry can last up to a month after opening.

Can old wine make you sick?

It’s highly unlikely you would get sick solely from drinking old wine. However, wine that has been open for over a month and turned vinegary could potentially cause digestion issues. Always inspect and smell aged wine before drinking.

What happens if you drink expired beer?

Drinking expired beer is generally safe and not dangerous. Flat, stale, or skunky beer may not taste great but it won’t make you ill. The worst that can happen is an unpleasant flavor. Check the smell and taste before consuming very old beer.

Does alcohol expire?

Alcohol itself does not truly expire. Distilled spirits have an indefinite shelf life after opening. Beer and wine have recommended time frames for best quality, but are still safe to consume afterward. Only flavored liquors and mixer cocktails can actually spoil and become unsafe.

Can you get sick from old opened wine?

It’s highly unlikely. As long as opened wine does not smell or taste vinegary or rotten, it will not make you sick. The alcohol acts as a preservative against harmful microbes. An old wine may lose its flavor and aroma but still be safe to drink with caution.

How long after opening does wine last?

General guidelines for wine storage after opening are 3-5 days for regular table wines and up to a month for fortified wines like port and sherry. White wines fare better around 3-4 days while hearty reds can last 5-7 days if stored properly in the fridge.

Can old tequila hurt you?

No, old tequila does not pose any health or safety risks if consumed. Over time, the flavors and aromas of tequila can fade. But the alcohol content prevents the growth of anything harmful. Old tequila may not taste great, but drinking it in normal amounts won’t cause harm.

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