Isolation Negronis
March 18, 2020 10:25 AM   Subscribe

Can I Drink It: 2+ year old, opened bottle of sweet vermouth (Martini Rosso). I know in terms of flavour, this is a nightmare for anyone with taste, but is it health hazard to drink it? I had a sip and I personally found it drinkable. Judge away.
posted by noxperpetua to Food & Drink (14 answers total)
It is not a health hazard to drink. The 18% alcohol content, while insufficient to effectively sterilize surfaces or whatever, is plenty enough to prevent bacteria from growing in it.
posted by aubilenon at 10:33 AM on March 18 [1 favorite]

Not a food microbiologist, but so long as the bottle was closed for the last 2 years (even if it was opened before) it's likely that if there is an infection of some kind, then it's fairly benign, and it's the kind of thing that would turn the vermouth into vinegar.

Does it smell and taste sour? If not, I would go for it (personally).

Thinking it further I suddenly got pandemic paranoia and thought: well, you wouldn't want to risk a trip to the ER right now over a negroni.

But that's probably just the hell world invading my thoughts.
posted by dis_integration at 10:34 AM on March 18

Drink it. I regularly use vermouth that old to cook with.
posted by cooker girl at 10:34 AM on March 18 [2 favorites]

It’s a fortified wine, so worst case is it’s probably turned to vinegar by now. Was it stored in a fridge?
posted by Champagne Supernova at 10:41 AM on March 18 [1 favorite]

It's been stored in the cupboard. Amazingly, it does not taste like vinegar.
posted by noxperpetua at 10:47 AM on March 18

Yeah I basically treat booze as having a shelf life of forever. I have a few opened bottles in my liquor cabinet older than that, and would not hesitate to drink if it still tastes reasonably like you'd expect it to.
posted by rabbitrabbit at 11:02 AM on March 18 [2 favorites]

My parents have one Manhattan a year, on Christmas eve. It's been the same one bottle for as long as I've been old enough to notice or know what it is. You'll be fine.
posted by dr. boludo at 11:03 AM on March 18 [17 favorites]

Just to say that if you live in a city of any appreciable size in a non state-store state, I bet you can find an open liquor store with a new bottle. There should be no reason to live through a pandemic having to wonder about your cocktails.
posted by rhizome at 11:40 AM on March 18

Table wine would be vinegar or something like that if opened at left at room temperature for two years. But fortified wines, wines with added distilled alcohol like vermouth, madeira, sherry, port, etc. will stay at room temperature quite well. Oh, a negroni. What a good idea!
posted by tmdonahue at 12:26 PM on March 18

Cocktail dorks always say that vermouths go bad (oxidize?), and they're probably right. But I would, and indeed have, made Negronis and Manhattans with forgotten cabinet vermouth. If it tastes okay, go for it! Indeed, I may do so myself.
posted by mostlymartha at 1:18 PM on March 18 [1 favorite]

Cocktail dorks always say that vermouths go bad (oxidize?), and they're probably right

My understanding is that matters a lot more for fancier vermouths (vermouthes?), which Martini Rosso is not. Maybe it's just that they get less fancy tasting is why it matters?
posted by aubilenon at 1:45 PM on March 18

"Cocktail dorks always say that vermouths go bad (oxidize?), and they're probably right."

Not so much while still sealed, but once you open it and introduce new air - and then introduce more air by drinking down the contents and creating more space in the bottle - it becomes an issue.

Store your opened vermouths in the fridge. This will slow down that process. White and red both.

anyway to answer OP's question: it should be absolutely fine. Enjoy with pleasure.
posted by komara at 2:27 PM on March 18

Yes, it's been fortified with another spirit and it won't go bad in the sense it could hurt you. A couple things happen to vermouth as it ages, though. It will lose some of its more delicate aromatics, although that effect can be reduced somewhat if you keep it in the fridge. It will also start to taste more musty as it oxidizes, which is more noticeable (and unpleasant) in a dry vermouth, which is mostly about delicate aromatics anyway. Dry vermouth may also turn a darker color. I use a really old bottle of sweet vermouth (like, a cocktail nerd should be ashamed to have a bottle that old) to deglaze the pan if I sear a steak, and then I reduce it and cook some mushrooms in it, and dinner is a delicious umami bomb.

At any given time we may have up to a dozen open bottles of vermouth and other aromatized wines, and as a result some of them maybe hang out too long for optimal flavor. I've found that some vermouths will start to precipitate solids as they break down, but none of them have killed me yet. I try to use up the lighter color stuff before anything like that can happen, and our sweet vermouth never gets that old except on purpose.
posted by fedward at 6:15 PM on March 18

My parents never throw stuff away, and I can say with assurance that alcohol can, indeed, go bad — last time I was home I made a cocktail with probably 30 year old opened Chambord which I decided not to drink on second thought. But I wouldn’t worry about 2 year old vermouth as long as it still tastes ok.

Also, PSA, evaporated milk that is 8 years past its best by date can go nasty. Ask me how I know. (And then I sent someone to the store because I was baking, and they came back with Millnot, which is also awful.)
posted by leahwrenn at 8:02 PM on March 18

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