Does Vodka Ever Go Bad?

Keeping track of a fully stocked kitchen with frozen items, fresh groceries, and pantry fillers is difficult enough, but when you add a liquor cabinet or a minibar, things can get confusing. You might not be sure whether you can leave all of your alcoholic products alone to fend for themselves in some dusty closet until kingdom come or if you have to throw a party and get rid of them before they go bad.

To start, you have to consider what's in the drink and how it will age. Vodka, for instance, is a pure liquor made from ingredients that can be distilled into alcohol, including anything from potatoes to fruit to wheat, per Thrillist. Typically vodka will be 80-proof (40% ABV) or higher, making it a pure spirit when served alone. Vodka's high percentage of alcohol makes it incredibly inhospitable for microbial life, therefore essentially being immune to bacterial spoilage forever. Bacteria cannot hope to survive in a bottle of vodka, so don't even bother looking for an expiration date.

How to store vodka and other spirits

According to Healthline, all base liquors, including gin, whiskey, tequila, rum, and vodka, have a stable shelf life, meaning they cannot expire in an unopened bottle. Industry experts suggest consuming your spirits within 6 to 8 months to take advantage of the peak flavors, but again there is no danger of the drink expiring, just a potential loss of subtle flavoring. Alcohol should be kept in a cool dark place — this includes your freezer, probably the darkest and coldest of areas, to preserve its taste and prevent evaporation.

Spoilage cannot occur in vodka or any other base liquors, but that can change if your drink has additives like sugar or other flavorings. According to The Spruce Eats, drinks like liqueurs, cordials, and other pseudo-cocktail specialty drinks such as amaretto, schnapps, RumChata, limoncello, and triple sec can spoil because of their added ingredients. For these drinks, you should always look for a best-by or expiration date to ensure your served liquors are as safe as they are tasty.