Amaretto is delicious — sweet, almondy and alcoholic it’s a treat that’s perfect used to spike a coffee or mixed with cola. But let’s be honest, most of us don’t drink sweet liqueurs every night of the week. Or even every weekend.
If you have a booze cabinet, you’re likely to open and forget liqueurs like Amaretto. They might come out around the holidays, or maybe you got a bottle as a gift and forgot it the day after the party. Even if you like sweet drinks, Amaretto can be cloying if you drink too much of it.
There’s no shame in the abandoned bottles at the back of the cabinet, most of us have a few, but when the festive season rolls around again or you fancy a sweet treat as you get merry you might pull one out and ask yourself ‘Does Amaretto go bad?’ ‘How long does Amaretto last?’ You might also ask yourself ‘When did we get this Amaretto?’
Lucky for you, I’ve researched the answer to all these questions. Well, admittedly I don’t know when you got your Amaretto but I will help you work out if it’s still good! I’ll even throw in some tips for using Amaretto so that next time you open a bottle it doesn’t sit around for months getting sticky!
What is Amaretto?
You might know Amaretto by different names. It’s a sweet, almond liqueur usually flavored with bitter almonds or peach pits. Popular brands include Disaronno, Luxardo, and Bols. If you have ever tended a bar no doubt you will have run into one of the three!
Amaretto is the main ingredient in an Amaretto sour (could have guessed that one, right?), a French Connection, and a Godfather. It’s a dark, sugary liqueur but is mostly distinguished by its strong, almost bitter almond flavor.
If you aren’t a drinker, you might know Amaretto as an ingredient in a whole host of desserts. Tiramisu is often flavored with Amaretto, and it’s a welcome addition to whipped cream or dark chocolate. Amaretto is even used in a few savory recipes like almondine sauce.
If you cook with Amaretto you’re even more likely to have a bottle of the stuff that is of very uncertain age, and maybe also a bottle that has been stored less than ideally. So, let’s get onto the big questions and work out if you can still use your liqueur…
Does Amaretto go Bad?
As Amaretto clocks in at 21-28% ABV and doesn’t contain cream it lasts a pretty impressive amount of time. That being said, Amaretto will eventually go bad.
An unopened bottle of the almond liqueur should last many years, but once you’ve cracked the cap the alcohol will begin to deteriorate and the drink’s shelf life will be very much reduced.
The basic rule of thumb for liqueurs like Amaretto is that the more added ingredients they have, the more likely they are to go bad relatively quickly. On the other hand, the higher the alcohol content the longer they will last.
If that’s confusing, let’s look specifically at Amaretto. It has added sugar, but not much else. The sugar could cause some problems but isn’t nearly as much of a worry as egg or cream. Amaretto is also medium-high proof for a liqueur, especially if your brand is closer to the 28% ABV mark. That should protect it from going bad for quite a long time.
If you want a short answer to ‘does Amaretto go bad?’ it’s yes, Amaretto will eventually go bad but is usually safe to drink for a long time after opening. It’s hard to be exact with the limits to when you can still drink it, so your best bet is to store it carefully and check its smell, taste, and color before you use it again.
How to Store Amaretto
Amaretto isn’t too needy, even once it has been opened.
It’s fine stored at a reasonable room temperature or just below. Obviously, if you live in an exceptionally hot climate it will go bad a lot quicker than usual and you might want to find it somewhere extra chilly.
Like most alcoholic drinks, Amaretto should be kept somewhere dark and dry and away from any sources of heat and abrupt changes in temperature. It shouldn’t be affected by quick stints in the fridge before serving — just remember it doesn’t need to stay there taking up valuable space all the time.
Once you’ve opened the bottle, make sure you close the lid tightly every time you put your Amaretto away. Oxidation changes alcohol and will ruin the flavor of your liqueur. For the same reason, if you have half a bottle of Amaretto left and know it won’t get finished for months or more, consider decanting the liquid into a smaller glass container (bottle or jar with an airtight lid) to minimize its contact with air.
Another thing to note about Amaretto is that because it’s sugary you should make sure to keep the mouth of the bottle and the lid clean. Sugary buildup can be a playground for bacteria, so just give the bottle and lid both a wipe down every time you put your Amaretto away.
Can you Freeze Amaretto?
As Amaretto is alcoholic you can’t keep it in the freezer. But can you stick it in to chill for more than a few minutes?
You might assume that because Amaretto is a liqueur it will turn to slush in most freezers. Actually, because the ABV of Amaretto is 21-28% it’s likely to simply get very cold. If you leave a 21% ABV bottle too long it may get slushy though, so be aware of how much booze is in your particular brand. If it has a lower alcohol content, simply don’t leave it in the freezer for too long. Give it a quick blast for under an hour and return it to the fridge.
Additionally, if you’re not sure how it will react never put a glass bottle of liquid in the freezer. You could end up with an explosion, and glass and slush all over your entire icebox!
How Long Does Amaretto Last?
An unopened bottle of Amaretto or a similar liqueur could last a whopping 20 years. A bottle that ancient is likely to have a best-by date that’s long gone, but it’s absolutely worth checking the contents before making a decision on its quality.
Once Amaretto is opened it stays good as new for 6 months to a year, after which it begins to deteriorate in flavor somewhat. If you store it properly though it will still be good to drink for several years.
How to Tell if Amaretto is Bad
As there are no hard and fast rules as to when Amaretto is past drinkable, you have to determine whether or not it’s bad for yourself.
The color and flavor of Amaretto will change a little over time, things change with any food or drink that has a long shelf life. Don’t worry if it seems a little lighter or darker than it used to, or the almond taste has faded a little.
Amaretto is only bad if it has a strange tang to its scent and taste, or has become bitter or sour. This is really unlikely to happen, but don’t risk drinking your Amaretto is it really smells or tastes off.
Apart from that, you have the danger of Amaretto going slushy in a really iced freezer or an exceptionally cold winter. If this happens, there’s not a lot you can do. Again, just stick it in the trash.
There’s also the possibility that your liqueur just isn’t very nice anymore. This is a judgment only you can make because it relies on personal taste. It might have lost some sweetness or almond flavor, or just taste a little ‘old’. It’s a hard thing to describe, but we all know it when we taste it!
If that happens, your Ameretto is still technically fine to drink. Of course, if you won’t enjoy it, don’t bother. But do consider whether you could still cook with it or mix it into cocktails. It’s best not to waste things, after all.
Uses For Amaretto
Amaretto is a classic Italian after-dinner drink, so why not serve it over ice at the end of a dinner party? It can also be served with fancy cookies or a small sweet treat in this context.
Amaretto mixes wonderfully into coffees and hot chocolates, so it’s a cold-weather favorite in many households. This is good after a walk in the cold, and a solid feature in many ski lodges!
In terms of cooking, you can use Amaretto in almond cookies, to flavor frosting or even to add a kick to homemade jams and preserves.
There are pretty much endless ways to use this liqueur, so hopefully you’ll never again have a bottle sitting around for years!]]>