Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Storing Liquor & Other Essentials

Q: Love the show. I just discovered it & I've watched every episode (ok, almost - I think there are 6 I've not gotten to yet). I don't make many cocktails at home and I don't entertain often. I'm curious if there are any special precautions or steps to take to store liquor, liqueur, bitters etc? I'm wanting to stock up my bar for the times I do entertain, but not throw the money away if it's all going to go bad before I use it. Thanks, keep up the good work.

A: Great question -- I'm gonna post this on the blog as well. Storing liquor is painless: just keep the bottles tightly capped and most liquors can be kept for decades (fruit flies are your main adversary here, and caps defeat them nicely). Same for bitters and nearly anything with an alcohol content greater than about 20% (40 proof). Low-alcohol liqueurs (30+ proof) will be fine as well. Mixers need to be refrigerated once opened (and even then are only good for about a week), and that's also a good idea for Rose's Lime Juice and Grenadine (though both will do fine at room temp for weeks, even opened). Wine should be finished off within about 24 hours of opening the bottle unless a vacuum or nitrogen re-corking system is used. My standard setup for infrequently used bars is as follows (all can be kept at room temp except where noted):

-Full liquor/liqueur selection, tightly capped.
-Good wine selection, unopened.
-Single-serve grapefruit, pineapple, orange, and tomato juice cans (all usually easy to find).
-12-oz. cans or bottles of cola, diet, lemon-lime, ginger ale, seltzer, and tonic.
-Cranberry juice and lemonade/sour mix either in an unopened bottle or single-serve cans if you can find them.
-Bitters, capped.
-Grenadine and lime juice, refrigerated if opened.
-Salt, pepper, sugar.

Unfortunately, you have to buy fruit and other garnishes fresh, though maraschino cherries, olives, and cocktail onions will keep for a while in the fridge (actually, I think maraschino cherries and cockroaches will be the only things around after a nuclear war). Believe it or not, ice is usually where people come up short when hosting impromptu parties. Hope that helps, and thanks for the feedback!