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Jun 7, 2012 08:47 AM

shelf-life of home-bottled carbonated cocktails

I recently came across a link from Jeffrey Morgenthaler about home-bottled carbonated cocktails ( and am planning to try a few out this weekend. My concern, however, is that cocktails made with fresh fruit juice will not have a significant shelf-life in the fridge. Morgenthaler mentions this, but I am having a difficult time seeing the problem using fruit juice if spirits and liqueurs with a high sugar content are acceptable. I was thinking of doing a carbonated basil gimlet for example, but don't want to waste the product if I'm looking at a short shelf-life. Anyone have any thoughts on this?

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  1. Fresh-squeezed citrus juice changes character within hours of being squeezed. I certainly have noticed that left-over batched cocktails with lime don't taste the same the next day. They aren't necessarily undrinkable or event bad, but definitely not the same.

    You could always make a small batch and try them at different time period, minimizing the waste if they don't age well.

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    10 Replies
    1. re: EvergreenDan

      I hear that and am in agreement. I think he mentions 2-3 days if using fresh juice, while stating that the cocktails he is making will last indefinitely in the fridge. My thought was if the drinks were in sealed bottles and refrigerated it wouldn't be a problem.

      1. re: matthew715

        Sealing/refrigerating doesn't matter when it comes to fresh juice- think of the difference between fresh squeezed lemon juice and the bottled stuff you buy at the grocery store. It doesn't go bad, but the flavor changes drastically. There are plenty of cocktails that don't use juice, though, and you could try those if you want it to be stable for a longer period of time.

        1. re: tinnywatty

          I batched up margaritas for a party a week ago, using fresh lime. I forgot to take all of it to the party and left two half gallon batches in my fridge. I have been drinking it all week, and while the flavor has changed, I think it has actually improved. (I made up the batches at full strength as if making a single serving, then shake on ice in individual servings.)

          1. re: JMF

            Last year I made a huge batch of orange punch, based on one of the recipes in Wondrich's book. I stored around a half gallon in the fridge, and it was consumed over three or four months. Like JMF, I stored it at full strength and diluted each serving as needed -- and I also felt that it improved over time.

            To clarify that last point: A couple of days after I made it I felt that it wasn't as good as it was on the first day. It lost a certain amount of zestiness, and tasted rather flat. But I left it and over the next month or so what it lost was no longer an issue because it gained in other areas, the result of flavors melding and mellowing.

            1. re: davis_sq_pro

              That's really interesting! I've never kept squeezed juice for more than a couple days. I'm curious now.

              Someone did a test awhile back to see whether people preferred fresh-squeezed juice or several hours old juice in cocktails. It would be interesting to see a similar comparison with aged cocktails.

              1. re: tinnywatty

                The test with fresh vs. 4-5 hour old lime juice vs. clarified lime juice was done by Dave Arnold of the French Culinary Institute and bar Booker & Dax. And yes, people preferred the 4-5 hour old lime juice.

                I have to speak to friends about aged cocktails with citrus and other juices. I gave out around a dozen small barrels 1-2 years ago to 1/2 dozen NYC bars (Summit, Madam Genever, Fatty Cue, etc.) to age cocktails in, some had juice in them, some didn't.

                I was speaking with Audrey Saunders (Pegu Club, NYC) and she feels that cocktails that age more than a week or two get flat and one dimensional. I think she meant aged in glass. Tony Concigliaro (69 Colebrook Row, London) has been aging cocktails in glass for many years. I'll see him in a few weeks and I'll ask his thoughts.

                1. re: JMF

                  I remember reading a comment on that test pointing out that the sample was mostly comprised of bartenders, who might be used to juice squeezed at the beginning of the night and therefore prefer it because it tasted the way they would expect. I'd be interested to see a test done with a larger and more diverse sample.

                  1. re: tinnywatty

                    This test as done over several years at Tales of the Cocktail seminars, Manhattan Cocktail Classic seminars and and more.

                    1. re: JMF

                      So, would you say that represents a good sample of both those people who would be accustomed to fresh squeezed juice, and people who squeeze juice at the beginning of the night, therefore not skewing the results based on their familiarity?