What's lurking in the back of your liquor cabinet? Here are some tips for starting fresh.
Step 1: Start by clearing out your cabinet. Line everything up on a countertop.
Step 2: Sort your liquor into three groups: the good, the bad, and the ugly. Good is anything you like and want to keep. Bad is anything that's been sitting open for too long. Ugly is anything old and unopened that you'll probably never drink or even admit you own.
TIP: An opened bottle of liquor will remain drinkable for about a year. Opened liqueurs last about half as long. Cream-based liqueurs must be refrigerated once opened, and even then will last only about two months.
Step 3: Pour out the bad stuff and recycle the glass.
TIP: Dump any bottles that have been opened and are less than one-quarter full. Once a bottle is opened, oxidation begins to degrade the quality.
Step 4: Decide what to do with the unopened, unwanted bottles. They're still fine to drink, regardless of age. Give them away or drain and discard them.
Step 5: Toss out past-their-prime mixers and extras, such as dried-up bitters and tattered parasols. Dump flat sodas and tonics and expired olives and onions.
Step 6: Dust off the bottles you plan to keep and wash and dry barware. Finally, wipe out the cabinet with a damp cloth.
Step 7: Restock your bar with a tasteful new batch of basics such as bourbon, scotch, gin, and vodka. Grab a good liqueur or two and a collection of mixers. Favor quality over quantity, if you're on a budget.
FACT: Did you know? The term cocktail as a mixed drink dates back to at least 1806, when The Balance magazine referred to it as an "excellent electioneering potion."