Throw Out Last Year's Holiday Cocktail Mixers

How to get your bar cart ready for holiday celebrations.

Everyone knows that the holiday season kicks off with Halloween, and with all the festive gatherings fast approaching, it's time to evaluate the bottles sitting on your bar cart. No judgment, but the half-empty liqueur bottles from your 2021 toast can hit the trash and make way for this year's celebratory tequila shots.

Here are some tips for clearing out your bar cart and making way for a brighter, fresher holiday season.

Get rid of opened, unrefrigerated liqueurs

While I'm sure you're a holiday party animal, it's also likely that you overstocked your home bar for last year's celebrations and there are a few remnants to show for it.

Although some cream-based liqueurs like Bailey's can surprisingly be enjoyed up to two years after opening, regardless of refrigeration, the same can't always be said for other products. Pennsylvania Dutch Egg Nog, for example, is recommended to "be bottled tightly and placed in the back of the fridge," and even then it will only last up to four months. VinePair notes that if a liqueur has any additives like sugar, fruit juices, or flavorings, it's best to toss it out no more than a year after opening it.

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If you're coming up on that one-year mark but hate to waste a bottle, VinePair advises to look for signs of oxidation, which will tell you whether the bottle's gone bad. Crystals forming around the mouth of the bottle and a thicker, stickier consistency of product are both signs it's time to let go.

Examine cocktail ingredients

When shaking or stirring up holiday-themed cocktails, you'll usually need more than just spirits to make them sing. (Even shots require a little extra pizzazz to be considered truly on-theme at the holidays.) That's where things like simple syrup, grenadine, or sour mix come into play.

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But it can be hard to know what to do with these add-ins when you're only using a little bit at a time. Will the rest of the bottle last until next holiday season? If you're using homemade simple syrup, it can last only up to a month so long as it's been sealed well and kept refrigerated. If you've had any store-bought syrups sitting on your bar cart since 2021, it's probably best to buy some new ones. Royal Rose, a syrup and mixers brand, notes its products last up to 18 months unopened but should be refrigerated after opening to ensure freshness. Grenadine, which is also a syrup, has a similar shelf life, so it should be enjoyed within a few months of opening.

Sour mixes, explains shelf life guide Still Tasty, will remain at best quality for about four to six months after opening if they've been refrigerated. If the mix has not been refrigerated and/or has an odd smell to it, that's a sign to toss it in the trash.

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Let's just assume you've left your bottles to sit on your bar cart (as I often do) and did not refrigerate them. Your safest bet is likely to pour them all out, rinse and recycle those bottles, and start fresh. Season's greetings!

 

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