Cocktail ingredients and bar tools

8 Ways To Keep Cocktail Ingredients Fresh (And Delicious)

Cocktail ingredients and bar tools

Do you love making cocktails but hate how the ingredients go bad so quickly? Well, you're not alone. Many bartenders and mixologists struggle with keeping their ingredients fresh.

A few key things to remember when stocking your home bar are quality, quantity, and freshness. First and foremost, always buy the freshest ingredients possible. If your ingredients are past their prime, your cocktails will be too.

In this blog post, we will share eight simple ways to keep your ingredients fresh for as long as possible - so you can make delicious cocktails time and time again!

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1. Airtight Containers

Fruits in airtight containers

Airtight containers are an excellent solution for any fresh ingredient you need to store for a few days at a time. These compartments stop the airflow in and out, meaning you can minimize contamination. Food in airtight containers won’t see bacteria growth because you’re keeping the moisture out.

You’ll also be keeping the smells contained. If you plan to store fruits in these canisters, keep avocados and apples whole instead of slicing them to prevent them from spoiling quickly.

If you're in a pinch, you can use mason jars, Tupperware, or even ziplock bags. Look into container sets of different sizes for various ingredients if you’re feeling fancier. These will come in handy while storing cocktail mixers or foods for your home bar.

2. Wet Paper Towels

Bartender preparing a cocktail with citrus and herbs

Herbs are a great way to add strong aromas and flavors to any cocktail. Mint, rosemary, and thyme make beautiful garnishes and perfectly top off a drink’s aesthetics. These plant ingredients need management before they go bad.

One way to preserve herbs is to wrap them in a moist paper towel and put them in a plastic bag inside the fridge. The moisture from the paper towels will conserve the freshness and crispness of the herbs, extending their storage life.

3. Coolers

A person putting ice inside a cooler

With hot temperatures and humid air, your drinks and ingredients can spoil and lose their delicious flavor. Consider getting a cooler because they’re durable and easy to transport.

They’re available in sizes ranging from 20 to 140 quarts, so find the right capacity for your needs. You can opt for a 20-quart cooler for a lower number of items. If you have a lot of ingredients and bottles, a 140-quart cooler could be right for you.

Coolers are excellent for keeping things cold, of course, but they also do a good job of keeping things dry. That means no more wilted garnishes or soggy fruit. And since you can pack a lot of ice into a cooler, it'll keep your ingredients colder for longer.

4. Microwaving

Your best drinks may include citrus ingredients like oranges, lemons, and limes. These fruits will last about a week at room temperature and up to a month in the fridge. One problem with storing citrus fruits in the refrigerator is they’ll start to lose their flavor.

The sugar in citrus thickens as the fruit gets cooler, making the juice less likely to release. You can try microwaving the fruits to bring them to room temperature. This tactic will help with the juicing process and make it taste as if it’s freshly squeezed.

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5. Fermentation

Fermented fruits

People have been using fermentation for thousands of years, especially in alcoholic beverages. After all, that’s how we have made wine for centuries. Fermentation occurs when you add yeast to a fruit juice like grape, converting the sugar into alcohol.

You can use the fermentation process with most fruits; some will take longer than others. Grapes and peaches typically ferment the fastest. When they’re ready for use, you can store your fermented fruit for a few weeks, depending on the storage container and the temperature.

6. Lacto-Fermentation

Lacto-fermentation is a similar process to regular fermentation. Some examples of lacto-fermented foods are kimchi and sauerkraut, which you can find at the store.

For this process, you need a tight container, such as a mason jar with salt and water. The salt protects the food from rotting. Lacto-fermentation has become more prevalent in bars because of its variety of options. For instance, you can use lacto-fermented tomatoes in a Bloody Mary.     

7. Pickling

Pickled fruits for cocktails

Pickling is another preservation technique people have used for centuries. Like lacto-fermentation, pickling includes salt. What makes it different from the other processes is the use of vinegar.

When you pickle a food, place it in a jar with salt, water, and vinegar and let it sit for the required time. Vinegar will help increase the acidity levels of the jar’s contents, thus extending the ingredient's shelf life.

Pickling has become a popular option for bartenders because of its longevity. You could pickle onions, watermelon rinds, and other edibles you use behind the counter. You could even do it with herbs and other plants like flowers to use as a lovely garnish for cocktails.

8. Fruit Syrup

Fruit syrup on a spoon

Another way to lengthen the life of fruits is to submerse them in syrup from a simple mixture of water and sugar. All you need to do is combine the water and sugar and boil it. When the liquid reaches a boiling temperature, pour it into a jar with your desired fruit. Sugar acts as a preservative similar to salt in fermentation.

You can even use alcohol instead of water (no need to boil it, though). Like sugar, alcohol is a preservative. Any liquor with an alcohol by volume (ABV) of 35% or higher will carry the process well and keep the fruit from spoiling.

Preserving Cocktail Ingredients Made Easy

When you’re behind the bar making drinks, you want an array of fresh ingredients at your disposal. Rotten foods can prevent you from making delicious beverages, so it’s important to know different ways of preserving food.

So, how do you keep ingredients fresh? This is a question that mixologists and home bartenders alike have been asking for years. There are many ways to keep your cocktail ingredients fresh, but the methods mentioned above are some of the best.

Do you have any tips to add? Let us know in the comments!

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