What Happens If You Drink Expired Alcohol? Answered (2023)

Last Updated on November 5, 2023 by Lydia Martin

You’re probably here because you accidentally drank a bottle of alcohol sitting for months or years on your shelf and worrying if it is a serious matter. 

If you’re curious, here we’ll detail what happens if you drink expired alcohol to shed light on your concern. 

What Will Happen If You Drink Expired Alcohol? 

Man Drinking Whiskey

If in rare cases, you drink expired alcohol, nothing much will happen to you other than the chance of an upset stomach. 

Alcohol with 40% ABV or more is less likely to go bad or “expire.” So, whiskey, tequila, vodka, and gin, won’t likely cause you harm.

As for beer and wine, since they’re low in alcohol content, they’re prone to going bad, but not to the point of “expiring.

In most cases, the way you store the bottles makes them go bad. 

Is It Safe To Drink It?

It can be safe to drink expired alcohol when it’s only a little past its “best by date,” but this typically applies to flavored spirits or liqueurs due to other ingredients used to make these alcohols. 

It’s not dangerous to drink expired alcohol, but we don’t recommend doing so. Why?

Because in the case that the alcohol has really expired, the taste won’t be the same anymore.

Distilled spirits, distilled spirits, and specialty drinks will start to taste different, and their original taste may start to fade. 

If you drink expired alcohol, you won’t taste it the way it was intended to deliver.  

Will You Get Sick If You Drink Expired Alcohol? 

No, you won’t get sick if you accidentally drink expired alcohol. The most likely effect is having an upset stomach, which is manageable (unless you’re feeling more than that).

The degradation caused by air and sunlight can alter the colors of alcohol molecules and make them taste dull. 

However, even though alcohol has an expiration date, it doesn’t seem like it will make you sick.

This is because food tends to break down into simpler components as food ages. 

How Long Can You Drink Alcohol After It Expires? 

You can drink alcohol after it expires as long as the taste is acceptable. There’s no definite time for it, but we suggest a maximum of one month to be safe. 

When the taste gets dull, you need to stop drinking the alcohol.

The flavors you’re intended to experience aren’t there anymore, so there’s no sense in drinking them continuously. 

Does Drinking It Get You Drunk?

man Holding Glass of Whiskey

Yes, it can still make you drunk since it still has “alcohol” in it. So if you consume larger amounts, you are still prone to intoxication. 

“I drink when I have occasion … and sometimes when I have no occasion.”

– Miguel De Cervantes, Spanish Writer

As long as there’s alcohol in the drink, the chance of getting drunk is there.

However, if it has really expired, the alcohol content may decrease, so you’ll need to consume more to get the feeling of intoxication. 

What Happens To Alcohol If It Expires?

Expired alcohol tastes dull [1]. 

Hard alcohol loses its color and taste when it goes bad. Various factors can affect alcohol’s flavor and appearance, and one of these is air and light. 

In addition to these, heat can also affect alcohol. An alcohol bottle can potentially reach its expiration date after being left open for a long time.

The chemical makeup of liquor begins to break down, and the bonds between various elements begin to weaken. 

This happens in wine when it’s affected by bottle shock or oxidation.


How do you know if alcohol has already expired?

To know if the alcohol has expired, you can do a taste test. If it tastes dull, it indicates that the alcohol is not in good taste anymore.

Specifically, if beer shows no carbonation or foam after pouring it, it’s a sign that it has gone bad. 

Do all types of alcohol expire?

No, most types of alcohol don’t really expire [2], especially those with 40% ABV or more.

For wine and beer with lower ABVs, they may go bad, but that’s because of improper storage, mostly. 

Final Verdict

Alcohol doesn’t really expire, and you won’t get sick after drinking expired alcohol. You’ll be at risk of an upset stomach, but nothing serious will happen. 

But while you can still consume alcohol past its expiration date (if any), we highly recommend not doing so, or you’ll taste a dull and flavorless drink.  

Besides, our bodies’ reaction to expired alcohol varies (person by person), so to be safe, you better consume any type of alcohol the ideal way.  



Lydia Martin

Lydia Martin hails from Redmond, Washington, where you’ll find some of the best cocktail bars and distilleries that offer a great mix of local drinks. She used to work as a bar manager in Paris and is a self-taught mixologist whose passion for crafting unique cocktails led her to create Liquor Laboratory. Lydia can whip up a mean Margarita in seconds! Contact at [email protected] or learn more about us here or feel free to give Lydia a tip.

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