What happens if you don’t refrigerate Irish cream liqueur?

Irish cream liqueur, such as the popular Baileys Irish Cream, is a cream-based liqueur made with Irish whiskey, cream, and various flavorings like cocoa, vanilla, etc. It’s a delicious drink that’s hugely popular around the holidays and other special occasions. But what happens if you don’t refrigerate it after opening? Let’s take a look.

Does Irish cream liqueur need to be refrigerated?

Yes, Irish cream liqueur should always be refrigerated after opening. Unlike regular liquor, Irish cream contains dairy products like cream and milk. These dairy components mean that the Irish cream can spoil if left unrefrigerated.

The packaging on bottles of Irish cream liqueur usually instructs consumers to “Refrigerate after opening.” This is because the dairy products in Irish cream can go bad at room temperature quite quickly. Refrigeration helps slow down the spoilage.

What happens if you leave Irish cream liqueur unrefrigerated?

If an opened bottle of Irish cream liqueur is left unrefrigerated, a few things will start to happen:

– It will lose quality and taste. The delicate flavor of Irish cream comes from the interaction of the Irish whiskey and the dairy products. When left out, the whiskey flavor becomes muted while the dairy flavors turn sour and unpleasant.

– It can curdle or separate. The cream component of Irish cream liqueur can curdle or separate from the rest of the liqueur when kept at room temperature for too long. This is due to the dairy solids breaking down. Curdled or separated Irish cream is lumpy and completely unappetizing.

– Mold growth. Being dairy-based, Irish cream left unrefrigerated can start growing mold after a day or two. This is because the sugars and proteins provide excellent food for mold. Refrigeration prevents this.

So in summary, Irish cream left unrefrigerated quickly loses quality in taste and texture and can even become unsafe to drink if mold develops.

How long can Baileys (or other Irish cream liqueurs) be left unrefrigerated?

Most Irish cream liqueurs like Baileys will usually last 1-2 days maximum when kept at room temperature after opening. Here is a rough timeline of what happens:

– Within 5-10 hours – starts losing quality and flavor

– 24 hours – cream may begin separating, liqueur turns slightly lumpy

– 48 hours – cream fully curdled or separated, liqueur tastes sour, possible mold growth

As you can see, Baileys Irish cream liqueur really should be refrigerated immediately after opening. Leaving it out for over a day risks major degradation in quality and safety.

Does Baileys (Irish cream) need to be refrigerated before opening?

Baileys and other unopened Irish cream liqueurs do not need to be refrigerated before opening. Since the bottle has not been opened and exposed to air, the liqueur remains safe from spoilage.

An unopened bottle of Irish cream can usually last 12-24 months when stored in a cool, dry place away from direct sunlight. Only after opening does it require prompt refrigeration. The labeling instructs consumers to refrigerate after opening for good reason.

Can you freeze Baileys or Irish cream liqueur?

Yes, Irish cream liqueur can be frozen after opening if you don’t plan to finish the bottle quickly. Freezing is an acceptable storage method to prolong its shelf life.

To freeze Irish cream liqueur:

– Make sure it is in an airtight, freezer-safe container. Do not freeze it in the original bottle.

– Leave a little headspace in the container as liquids expand during freezing.

– Store for up to 6 months in the freezer.

– Thaw in the refrigerator before using.

– Use immediately once thawed, do not freeze and re-freeze.

– Shake gently before serving as separation can occur after thawing.

So freezing is a good option for storing Baileys or other Irish cream liqueurs long-term after opening. But make sure to refrigerate it once thawed and use immediately.

Does alcohol go bad if not refrigerated?

Unlike Irish cream liqueur, regular distilled spirits generally do not require refrigeration either before or after opening. Vodka, rum, whiskey, gin, and other liquors are quite shelf-stable and do not easily spoil.

This is because their higher alcohol content prevents microbial growth. Also, these spirits do not contain dairy ingredients that can curdle or go bad.

However, refrigeration is still recommended by experts for optimal flavor and quality over the long run. While liquor may not “go bad” for safety reasons, condensation and temperature fluctuations can slowly degrade taste.

So while not an absolute necessity, refrigeration of liquors is still a good practice for flavor preservation once opened.

Can you get sick from old Irish cream liqueur?

Yes, consuming Irish cream liqueur that has spoiled can make you sick. Here are some of the dangers of drinking old Irish cream:

– Food poisoning. If Irish cream grows harmful bacteria or mold, it can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and nausea. Mold is especially hazardous.

– Curdled cream. The taste of curdled cream may be unpleasant but isn’t dangerous itself. But it can be a sign the liqueur has spoiled.

– Contamination. Dirty glasses or utensils used with spoiled Irish cream can spread bacteria quickly.

So while Irish cream liqueur doesn’t necessarily harbor harmful pathogens when freshly opened, leaving it sitting out encourages contamination that can make people ill. Refrigeration prevents this.

Seek medical help if you experience symptoms like vomiting, dizziness, or diarrhea after consuming spoiled Irish cream liqueur. The effects should pass after 24 hours as the alcohol kills bacteria over time. But seek help if symptoms persist or become severe.

How to tell if Irish cream liqueur has gone bad?

Here are some signs that your opened Irish cream liqueur has gone bad and should be discarded:

– Sour, curdled, or “off” smell
– Cream visibly curdled or separated
– Lumpy consistency
– Mold growth inside bottle
– Expired best-by date passed

Trust your senses – if the Irish cream smells or tastes unpleasant in any way, it’s best to throw it out. Expired and improperly stored bottles that show lumps or layers have likely spoiled.

Remember, Irish cream liqueur lasts only 1-2 days after opening if unrefrigerated. So when in doubt, toss it out. With a high dairy content, it’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to Irish cream.

Can expired Irish cream liqueur make you sick?

Consuming Irish cream liqueur that is past its expiration or “best-by” date can potentially make you sick. Here’s why:

– Degraded taste and aroma. Expired Irish cream liqueur tends to develop an unpleasant sour, bitter, or curdled taste and smell. This is your first sign it may be going bad.

– Bacterial growth. While Irish cream liqueur doesn’t support extensive bacteria growth due to its alcohol content, some can still multiply past the expiration date. This increases food poisoning risk.

– Dairy degradation. The dairy components like cream and milk proteins break down over time, making the liqueur more prone to curdling or separation after expiration.

So while an expired bottle of Irish cream may not make you ill immediately or severely due to the alcohol content, it’s still smart to avoid it. The most prudent course is discarding Irish cream liqueur once its expiration date has passed.

How long does open Irish cream last in the fridge?

In general, an opened bottle of Irish cream liqueur will last 2-3 weeks in the refrigerator before quality starts to decline. However, exact timelines depend partly on the product and proper storage:

– Baileys Irish Cream: lasts 4-6 weeks refrigerated after opening.

– Carolans Irish Cream: lasts 5-6 weeks refrigerated after opening.

– Kerrygold Irish Cream: lasts 3-4 weeks refrigerated after opening.

– St. Brendan’s Irish Cream: lasts 4-5 weeks refrigerated after opening.

– Emmets Irish Cream: lasts 3-4 weeks refrigerated after opening.

No matter what brand you choose, be sure to:

– Refrigerate immediately after use.
– Keep refrigerated at all times, do not leave out overnight.
– Store away from fridge odors that can seep into cream’s flavor.
– Seal the bottle tightly and wipe clean after each use.
– Consume within 5-6 weeks and discard if any odor or texture changes arise.

Does Baileys go bad?

Yes, opened bottles of Baileys Irish Cream liqueur can go bad if not stored properly. Here are some signs that your opened Baileys has spoiled and should be discarded:

– Sour, unpleasant smell
– Cream visibly curdled or separated
– Mold growing inside bottle
– Expired best-by date passed
– More than 6 weeks in fridge after opening

Like any dairy-based product, Baileys Irish cream is prone to spoilage once exposed to air. Always refrigerate the bottle immediately after use and toss if more than 6 weeks after opening.

Unopened Baileys generally lasts 12-24 months stored away from heat and light. Refrigeration is not needed before opening a fresh bottle. But once opened, Baileys must be refrigerated and has a more limited shelf life.


Irish cream liqueurs like Baileys are a delicious indulgence but their dairy content means they require proper storage. Most importantly, Irish cream liqueurs should always be refrigerated immediately after opening. Leaving them unrefrigerated quickly leads to curdling, separation, and off-flavors as the dairy components degrade.

Storing an opened bottle of Irish cream liqueur in the fridge will maintain its quality and prevent potential foodborne illness for generally 4-6 weeks. Freezing is also an option if you won’t finish the bottle quickly. But no matter what, remember to return that Irish cream back to the fridge after pouring – leaving it out overnight ruins its taste and texture.

By understanding how to properly store Irish cream liqueurs, you can ensure your Baileys, Carolans, and other Irish cream drinks stay smooth, luscious, and safe to fully savor and enjoy.

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