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How long is opened vodka good for?

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foodsmith Jan 10, 2009 01:25 PM

I have a barely used bottle of Smirnoff, triple filtered vodka that I swear must be nearly 2 years old. Is it still good for making penne al vodka? And by good is there anything dangerous about eating it? Sorry my knowledge of liquor is zero :)

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    fourunder RE: foodsmith Jan 10, 2009 01:35 PM

    As long as the cap was on....you are good to go. Even if the cap was off, it's probably still good......unless there are bugs in it....then I would say to pour it down the drain.

    2 Replies
    1. re: fourunder
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      foodsmith RE: fourunder Jan 10, 2009 01:43 PM

      Do bugs like Vodka?

      And yeah the cap was on it, not super tight, but tight enough I would think. It certainly didn't evaporate.

      1. re: foodsmith
        k
        KTinNYC RE: foodsmith Jan 10, 2009 02:45 PM

        Fruit flies like alcohol, probably because of the sugars.

    2. c oliver RE: foodsmith Jan 10, 2009 01:45 PM

      I keep a bottle of vodka at my MIL's (to kill the pain!) and it lasts forever --- well, I don't LET it last forever but, yeah, you're fine.

      1. Karl S RE: foodsmith Jan 10, 2009 01:50 PM

        It should be good for another couple of generations.

        1. Will Owen RE: foodsmith Jan 10, 2009 02:00 PM

          When Papa cleaned all the booze out of his wine cellar, under doctor's orders, he gave all of us whatever we wanted to cart home. We got two FIFTHS (anyone else old enough to remember that size?) of Polish buffalo-grass flavored vodka, somewhat diminished in volume but still very good indeed. I believe they date from when the wine cellar was built, around 1964.

          7 Replies
          1. re: Will Owen
            MMRuth RE: Will Owen Jan 10, 2009 06:22 PM

            I do like that buffalo grass vodka - it's lovely. We're able to pick it up on Brighton Beach occasionally.

            1. re: MMRuth
              c oliver RE: MMRuth Jan 10, 2009 06:25 PM

              We'll be back in NY in June and will check it out.

              1. re: c oliver
                MMRuth RE: c oliver Jan 10, 2009 06:26 PM

                I do think it is probably available at regular liquor stores as well - I'm pretty sure we bought it in D.C. as well.

            2. re: Will Owen
              b
              bnemes3343 RE: Will Owen Jan 15, 2009 04:50 AM

              Old enough to remember a fifth? Havnen't actually heard the term in a long time, but isn't the 750ml size a fifth?

              1. re: bnemes3343
                HaagenDazs RE: bnemes3343 Jan 15, 2009 05:43 AM

                I thought so too until I read something online. A 750 ml is still very often referred to as a "fifth" so the term isn't exactly as foreign as some people here make it out to be, but a true fifth is 757 ml... not much different.

                1. re: bnemes3343
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                  fourunder RE: bnemes3343 Jan 15, 2009 05:59 AM

                  but isn't the 750ml size a fifth?
                  ___________________________________________

                  although similar, it comes down to hard liquor industry standard for measurement which converted years ago. The old days were measured with the English system of measurement, e.g., Half Gallon, Quart, Fifth and Pint. Today's liquor standard for measurement is the Metric System, e.g., 1.75 Litre, Litre, 750 ml and 375ml.

                  I cannot recall specifically when the conversion of measurement was implemented, but my best recollection is over 25 years ago.

                2. re: Will Owen
                  Caralien RE: Will Owen Jan 15, 2009 12:52 PM

                  I'm 36 and recall bottles being called fifths, or at least egg nog recipes asking for them. The term always confused me, as I assumed that it would be flask-sized (a fifth of a normal bottle)? But that didn't make sense either, and these weren't questions my parents really felt like answering.

                  (thank you fourunder for your explanation, as this has bugged me for awhile)

                3. BeaN RE: foodsmith Jan 10, 2009 02:19 PM

                  It depends upon how well I hide it!

                  It doesn't go bad.

                  1. Caralien RE: foodsmith Jan 10, 2009 06:08 PM

                    Spirits 40% and over don't go bad, but we have never had any last that long. :)

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: Caralien
                      c oliver RE: Caralien Jan 10, 2009 06:12 PM

                      I'm quite tempted to ask all the responders to this thread to come over for cocktails :)

                      1. re: c oliver
                        Will Owen RE: c oliver Jan 11, 2009 12:55 PM

                        I would encourage that, honest I would. I'd bring a bottle of Hendrick's and demonstrate the Proper Martini...

                        1. re: Will Owen
                          c oliver RE: Will Owen Jan 11, 2009 01:09 PM

                          I haven't had Hendrick's (yet) but love Plymouth. Mmm. I drink vodka as my daily drink but gin is IT for a real martini. Off-topic; oh well.

                          1. re: c oliver
                            Will Owen RE: c oliver Jan 11, 2009 05:54 PM

                            Hendrick's is nice and floral; it has cucumber in it, too, which might have something to do with how refreshing it is. Makes exquisite G&Ts, too.

                            1. re: Will Owen
                              Caralien RE: Will Owen Jan 11, 2009 06:07 PM

                              This almost makes me miss G&Ts, but I really can't stomach gin any longer as a beverage. It did, however, make my pate taste wonderful.

                    2. pikawicca RE: foodsmith Jan 11, 2009 05:56 PM

                      Forever.

                      1. Caroline1 RE: foodsmith Jan 11, 2009 06:45 PM

                        As long as you didn't decant it into a lead crystal decanter, it's still good! On th other hand, if you did decant it into lead crystal, put a bow around it and give it to someone you want to make really really sick! JUST KIDDING! If you did decant it, the only thing to do with it is pour it down the drain... Other than leached lead, vodka is good as long as it's still in the bottle!

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Caroline1
                          HaagenDazs RE: Caroline1 Jan 13, 2009 05:36 AM

                          If anyone ever decants Smirnoff vodka and on top of that lets it sit for a couple years I think I'll point and laugh at them.

                        2. Veggo RE: foodsmith Jan 11, 2009 07:03 PM

                          It will last until you invite me for happy hour.

                          1. vvvindaloo RE: foodsmith Jan 12, 2009 07:25 AM

                            The vodka should be fine. If you tend to use vodka only occasionally, and worry that it is not as fresh as it could be, store it in the freezer. That's where I keep my vodka(s), and I don't even think about them going bad. Some bottles have been open for two years or more. Just be sure to keep the caps closed tight, regardless of where you store them.

                            1. jspear RE: foodsmith Jan 14, 2009 10:56 AM

                              capped vodka lasts a lifetime, look for little black flecks, however, if it stood upopened for any amount of time.....freezer it from now on.

                              22 Replies
                              1. re: jspear
                                JMF RE: jspear Jan 15, 2009 04:23 AM

                                Putting spirits in the freezer isn't the best idea unless it is just for a few hours before serving.

                                The cycles of cold and sudden relative warmth, from the few degrees change when the freezer door opens, can cause condensation and vaporization within the bottle and so force out small amounts of spirits and air and draw in small amount of air. Even in a new sealed bottle. If the bottle is stored in the door of the freezer the problem increases dramatically.

                                I have found that bottles stored in the freezer for any period of time lost slight volume, became slightly watered down, and even picked up freezer and fridge flavors. This was really noticeable at a friends house this summer where he had several bottles in the freezer. His freezer is very active with ice being made and used all day during summer weekends. The door is opened at lest every hour, usually much more.

                                One bottle that had been there a few weeks had dropped about 2% abv and picked up some slight freezer burn type flavors. bottles that had been there for several months and a year had dropped almost 5% abv and picked up all kinds of flavors. I had equipment from my lab at my distillery with me to show how spirits open up as water was added and to see what strength each of us liked to water our whiskey and rum down to. So I could accurately test the abv of the odl vodka in the freezer and we did some side by side tests with new bottles of the same types of vodka. The flavor difference in all samples from the freezer were noticeably inferior.

                                In my personal opinion the best place to store open or unopened spirits is tightly sealed in a dark, relatively cool place, without temperature swings. Just like with wine. The darkness and steady, consistent temp is more important than low temps, although under 70F degrees is preferred, around 55-60 is really good. The key thing is no sudden temp changes or cycles. You just can't do that in a home freezer.

                                1. re: JMF
                                  c oliver RE: JMF Jan 15, 2009 07:05 AM

                                  That is so interesting. It makes sense but I would have never thought about it. Now that the bottle of Tanquerary 10 has been there a couple of months, am I better off just leaving it there or taking it out and having it "suffer" major temp change? Thanks so much for taking the time to write this. If I'm going to keep premium vodka and gin around, I don't want to defeat the purpose by treating it wrong.

                                  1. re: JMF
                                    jspear RE: JMF Jan 15, 2009 07:14 AM

                                    I guess I use my vodka differently and my freezer. Mine stays at the back of the freezer and I only use my freezer for vodka. I have ice through a dispenser. Mine stays great in the back on the bottom and has none of the burn flavor pick up, condensation (watering down) or evaporation. I'd keep mine there, especially if you like it ice cold, which I do if making a coctail or sipping.....I wouldn't change my storage unless you have had some of the problems that jmf describes.

                                    1. re: jspear
                                      vvvindaloo RE: jspear Jan 15, 2009 10:34 AM

                                      Sounds like me- I use my freezer nearly exclusively for vodka and limoncello! I probably open the freezer about once per week, on the rare occasions that I cook with frozen peas or homemade stock, buy/eat ice cream at home or realize that I have a lot of good bread that will go to waste unless I freeze it and defrost at a later time.

                                    2. re: JMF
                                      Caralien RE: JMF Jan 15, 2009 12:59 PM

                                      I used to keep vodka in the freezer, but now that is now filled with coffee, butter, bread, oils, nuts, and french green beans.

                                      We've decided that it's best to keep the vodka (and gin) at room temperature, in order to let the ice dissolve a bit to chill the drink properly in a shaker. Less convenient, but that little bit of extra water is fine by us and there's no frozen glass for our fingers to stick to.

                                      1. re: Caralien
                                        jspear RE: Caralien Jan 16, 2009 06:22 AM

                                        I have heard similar difficulties with storing coffee in the freezer, especially if you are openning it a lot, mine is still on the door of the fridge, again, haven't had the difficulties with keeping it there.....I have never, however, kept my gin in the freezer, I like, as you do, to chill it with ice especially for a martini, i do not usually do gin straight up....

                                        1. re: jspear
                                          Caralien RE: jspear Jan 16, 2009 06:40 AM

                                          We have bags of coffee in the freezer for storage (we buy 10lbs every 2-3 months), but won't open/close the bags and return them due to condensation, etc.
                                          Our daily use coffee is in an air-tight container next to the coffee maker, which is easier when one is bleary eyed and doesn't want a bag of frozen whatever to fall on bare toes in the morning!

                                          Gin straight up--very strange. I did a Tanqueray tasting about 10 years ago and it seemed almost wrong.

                                          1. re: Caralien
                                            jspear RE: Caralien Jan 16, 2009 07:25 AM

                                            for me that is the difference between vodka and gin, like and do vodka alone, need something with gin.....

                                            1. re: jspear
                                              Caroline1 RE: jspear Jan 16, 2009 09:47 AM

                                              But gin is so widely varied in flavor while vodka -- the traditional vodkas, not the newer flavored vodkas -- built their reputations as the stealth booze. No flavor, no smell, no problem. Kids loved vodka because (they thought) their parents couldn't detect it on their breath. Gin, on the other hand, is always distinctive. My all time favorite gin was Seagram's Golden Gin, no longer made and gone the direction of the original Seagrams company. I have friends who absolutely adore Beefeater's gin, but I can't swallow it. Vile! But there was a time -- I think it was the early James Bond years -- when gin was, for all intents and purposes, drunk neat. There were "martini" recipes that read "pour a few drops of dry vermouth into a martini glass, swirl and then pour it down the drain, fill glass with iced gin." Other recipes used an atomizer to spray a thin film of dry vermouth on top of the iced gin (or vodka) once it was in the martini glass. For me, that's pretty much gin straight up.

                                              1. re: Caroline1
                                                c oliver RE: Caroline1 Jan 16, 2009 10:46 AM

                                                You're so correct. I love Sapphire and very much like Plymouth. I bought a bottle of Tanqueray 10 on my daughter's recommendation. Really don't care for it so keep it for gin-drinking guest who like that they're getting something "special." And I've only recently started adding more vermouth to my martinis. I used to swirl the vermouth in the glass, pour it out and then put the glass in the freezer so I got a slight amount of vermout. But I've been reading about more vermouth and have been using more. But I still want to keep that very herby Sapphire taste as the dominant one. So I'm with you - a martini is straight up.

                                                1. re: Caroline1
                                                  vvvindaloo RE: Caroline1 Jan 16, 2009 11:44 AM

                                                  Caroline, I am pretty sure that the swirl and pour technique remains the "proper" way to make a martini (gin very chilled). then again, this is from the school of "there's no such thing as a vodka martini". never mind a "fruity" one!

                                                  1. re: vvvindaloo
                                                    Caroline1 RE: vvvindaloo Jan 16, 2009 12:26 PM

                                                    I'm pretty sure the original martini recipe called for half and half; half gin and half dry vermouth. Then around the time of World War II, it eased into a two or three to one ratio, specifically two (or three) parts gin to one part dry vermouth. The less vermouth, the "dryer" the martini is purported to be. I don't know if anyone makes a "real" martini any more. Well, besides me on the very rare occasion I want to ice my vintage (1933) art deco silver martini pitcher. Don't do that often. It's easier to just set out a bowl of stuffed olives and let people damage their dendrites as they choose.

                                                    1. re: Caroline1
                                                      Caralien RE: Caroline1 Jan 16, 2009 01:01 PM

                                                      Ice in shaker, 3 second pour of Bombay Sapphire, quick spash of vermouth, shake 8-16x, strain into chilled glass, garnish with olive.

                                                      I prefer vodka martinis; the Casino Royale version used both, plus Lillet.

                                                      What bugs me is calling everything martinis. They're cocktails or mixed drinks, not martinis! More here:
                                                      http://www.esquire.com/drinks/martini...

                                                      1. re: Caralien
                                                        JMF RE: Caralien Jan 17, 2009 03:21 AM

                                                        I'm with you on that one. Cocktails are cocktails and there is only one martini. (Well, I will accept the name vodka martini, but I laugh.)

                                                        As for what Dave says in the article you link to. I wonder how old that one is. He's been writing for Esquire about cocktails for a long time and his tastes have changed. I've drunk a few cocktails with him and know he likes his martini's a bit wetter than in that article. Check this link out, it's from last summer. http://www.chow.com/stories/11210

                                                        1. re: Caralien
                                                          jgg13 RE: Caralien Jan 27, 2009 04:53 PM

                                                          "What bugs me is calling everything martinis"

                                                          The pushback (which I don't agree with) is the old, "language evolves over time" argument. OTOH, 'cocktail' is used a lot more loosely than it's own origin, so who knows.

                                                          1. re: jgg13
                                                            JMF RE: jgg13 Jan 28, 2009 06:09 AM

                                                            True, language does evolve, but in the case of martini it should be directed back to its original use as a proper name of a drink the Martini, not the misguided attempt of the 90's to make it a term for a category, replacing Cocktail. An example of terms evolving and then going back is how photocopies came to be called a "xerox' after the original make of the Xerox photocopying machine, now the term photocopy, or just "copy" is again becoming the general use term.

                                                            yes, the term Cocktail is used more loosely than its original definition. The first known use of the term cocktail in print was in the May13, 1806 New York publication, The Balance, and Columbian Repository. "As I make it a point, never to publish anything (under my editorial head) but which I can explain, I shall not hesitate to gratify the curiosity of my inquisitive correspondent: Cocktail, then is a stimulating liquor, composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water, and bitters-it is vulgarly called a bittered sling.

                                                            So originally a cocktail was spirits, water, sugar, and bitters. It has evolved to include juice and flavorings, as well as ice (or hot water) to replace some or all of the water; and might not have bitters.

                                                            1. re: JMF
                                                              jgg13 RE: JMF Jan 28, 2009 07:17 AM

                                                              Oh, you're preaching to the choir here. I was just the messenger on that argument :)

                                                              The cocktail analogy though was just to point out that cocktails were just a class of drinks - like punches, flips, slings, etc, and then became a catch-all phrase.

                                                              Either way, it reminds me of the chastising I'd get 10-15 years ago from friends of mine into "techno", who would get all mad as "techno" was actually just one subgenre of the sort of music that the layman would refer to as "techno". Or something like that, I never quite understood the differences :)

                                                        2. re: Caroline1
                                                          JMF RE: Caroline1 Jan 17, 2009 03:09 AM

                                                          This thread is veering a bit.

                                                          Actually martini's made with higher proportions of vermouth are back big time. We are in the second golden age of cocktails, also called the cocktail revolution, which started to really hit around the turn of the millenium. Retro cocktails of vintage recipes from the first golden age of cocktails, 1800-1910, are very big in fine cocktail bars all over the country and world.

                                                          Just in NYC alone there are over ofrty or fifty fine cocktail bars where if you order a martini they will ask you what proportions you prefer, but they will recommend anything from 3:1 up to 1:1 ratios of gin to vermouth. Plus they will add a few drops of bitters, preferably orange, and they might even have an artisanal vermouth or even house made vermouth and bitters. And of course served with a twist of lemon, to bring out all the botanicals, not a rancid, vinegary, old pimento stuffed cocktail olive.

                                                          1. re: JMF
                                                            c oliver RE: JMF Jan 17, 2009 06:44 AM

                                                            Yes, I was advised by a knowledgeable bartender that if I'm going to spend my money on a good martini then ditch the olive and just go with a twist. I agree. Why cover up the taste of something fine with something not. I also have read recently about the "fitty-fitty" and, although that's too wet for me, I've definitely increased the vermouth. Yes, though veering, I think it's gotten very informative after being very amusing - both good things.

                                                          2. re: Caroline1
                                                            jgg13 RE: Caroline1 Jan 27, 2009 04:51 PM

                                                            The ratio of gin to vermouth varied over time. If you look at the martinez, a predecessor of the martini it was even 2-1 vermouth-gin, with early martini cocktails looking like the half&half that you mention. I could be wrong but I think I've read that at the time 'sweet' vs 'dry' was in reference to the vermouth used and not the amount.

                                                            FWIW, I think the "almost no vermouth" trend is a detriment to the drink, Churchill be damned.

                                                            1. re: jgg13
                                                              JMF RE: jgg13 Jan 28, 2009 05:54 AM

                                                              jgg13- Nope, I you are 100% correct on all counts, including that there should be a noticeable presence of vermouth. Otherwise you are just drinking chilled gin. Which I have nothing against, one of my favorite drinks is gin on the rocks.

                                                              1. re: JMF
                                                                jgg13 RE: JMF Jan 28, 2009 07:19 AM

                                                                I started my consumption of non-college age drinks right when the 'martini' ridiculousness really started cranking up (which is not to say that I ever gave up drinking college age drinks either!), and picked up the stereotypical preference for vodka and an aversion to vermouth. Thing was, I never even really *had* vermouth - people just always said it was bad, so I figured it was. Throw in the fact that generally people are using *bad* vermouth (low end brands, bottles that have been sitting around for years, etc) and it didn't help.

                                                                My eyes were opened a few years ago, and I've never looked back.

                                          2. BeanBoy RE: foodsmith Jan 24, 2009 01:22 AM

                                            As long as it tastes good and still works :P

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