Irish cream is a famous dairy liqueur that contains cocoa, Irish whiskey, and cream. It is a common ingredient in cocktails and desserts, but you can also drink it straight up, chilled, or on the rock.
You can keep a bottle of Irish cream for an extended period since it lasts a very long and only small liqueur doses go into cocktails. The questions you need answers to are -Does Irish cream goes bad and how long does Irish cream last. Let’s see.
Does Irish Cream Go Bad?
Irish cream contains about 17% alcohol, depending on the brand and recipe. That alcohol prolongs its shelf life by killing bacteria that could otherwise contaminate sweet liqueur. However, it can go bad after about two years because the dairy part leads to a gradual loss of quality and spoilage.
In fact, most bartenders use Irish cream for only about six months because it is the peak of its quality. The longer you store it, the more its quality decreases until it eventually becomes inconsumable. Nowadays, you can find dairy-free, vegan Irish cream with almond milk instead of heavy cream, but its shelf life is similar to the regular kind.
How Long Does Irish Cream Last?
If you pay attention, you can find the best before the date at the bottom of the Irish cream label. It is different from an expiration date since the manufacturer uses it to define the period the liqueur is still quality.
On average, a bottle of Irish cream can last around two years if you store it in a pantry or fridge. When keeping the liqueur in the refrigerator, you can use it for about six months after the best before date passes.
Once you open the bottle, you need to use the beverage within six months, no matter how much time there is until the label’s date. Since alcohol evaporates in contact with air, your drink won’t be the same after that period.
How Long Does Irish Cream Last (Chart)
Irish cream type
|Unopened||2 to 3 months|
|6 months||6 months|
|Homemade||2 to 3 months|
3 to 6 months
If you prefer homemade Irish cream, you should keep in mind that it has a shorter shelf-life than a commercially produced bottle. You can store it for two to three months in your pantry, while the refrigerator can extend its lasting up to six months.
4 Tips to Tell if Irish Cream Has Gone Bad
The longer you store Irish cream, the more its quality degrades. While it is safe to use for some time after opening it, the liqueur will spoil at some point. There are few signs it is no longer drinkable.
The bottle of Irish cream has an average shelf-life of about two years, and even an unopened liqueur can go bad once the expiration date passes.
In some cases, it can be perfectly safe to drink. However, it is always better to be safe and discard the bottle if you have kept it for more than six months after the date passes.
Typically, Irish cream has a sweet, mild scent. If you open the bottle and smell a sour, strange odor, it means that cream has gone bad. The dairy part changes, and it can cause you a digestive problem if you drink it.
Fresh Irish cream has a beige and creamy color, and any discoloration means it is no longer safe for consumption. Once the beverage spoils, it can become darker and thicker than usual. In that case, the drink’s chemical composition changed, and you should discard the rest of the bottle.
One of the definite signs of spoilage is a curdled liqueur. If you notice chunks in the bottle and the dairy part separates from alcohol, the Irish cream has gone bad. Lumpy texture means that it is too old or has been exposed to heat. In both cases, don’t drink it.
4 Tips to Store Irish Cream
The best tip you can get about storing Irish cream is to use it as soon as possible once you open the bottle. Luckily, there are many ways to use it, from classic cocktails to fruit dips. There are a few pieces of advice you can use to save it longer.
If you decide to keep Irish cream in a pantry, place it in a dark and dry place. High temperatures accelerate the spoilage of dairy in a liqueur, so leave your liqueur away from the window and sunlight.
Once you open the bottle, make sure to close it tightly after use. Otherwise, alcohol can weather, and you will waste the beverage before time.
Always use a clean paper towel to wipe the bottle’s throat after pouring a drink. Accidentally spilled drops can stick to the bottle cap causing you difficulty to open it next time.
Besides, the liqueur remnants on edge will spoil and grow bacteria, so you can accidentally contaminate the rest of the liqueur.
Although you can store Irish cream in the pantry, most manufacturers recommend storing it in a refrigerator once you open it. That way, you preserve its original taste longer.
Never leave liqueur in the fridge door. Besides heat, the Irish cream is also sensitive to sudden changes in temperature, which are common in that part due to frequent opening.
Keep Irish cream only in the original bottle since its design is created to preserve liqueur consistency. If you have homemade Irish cream, store it in a glass bottle that you can close airtight.
Although freezing a whole bottle of Irish cream is not recommended, you can still make ice cubes with this liqueur. Add some milk to it to lower the freezing point and pour the mix into an ice cube tray.
You can then leave it in a freezer overnight and use cubes to enhance fruit salads, cocktails in a shaker, or put some in your coffee. If you have some Irish cream you don’t want to waste, make popsicles.
Add 0.25 cups of Irish cream in a blender with two bananas, milk, and chocolate syrup. Then, pour the mixture into pop molds and freeze. If your pops stick to the mold while trying to take them out, place them for 10 seconds under a jet of lukewarm water, and they will be ready for use.
Make a cocktail
Many people enjoy Irish cream as a dessert and drink it purely with ice. However, you can also try any of the countless cocktails that contain it. The most famous is, of course, the flaming B-52, but you can also make:
- Baileys Dublin double
- Caramel Irish coffee
- Irish cactus
- Nutty Irishman
- Screaming orgasm
Can You Freeze Irish Cream?
Freezing Irish cream is not a good idea. When putting this liqueur in the freezer, the milk part separates from the alcohol and freezes, and ice crystals form and destroy its texture.
Once you take the bottle out of the freezer, you will get alcohol full of lumps that you can’t pour properly. The liqueur consistency won’t be the same as before freezing.
However, you can put Irish cream in a freezer for a short period if you kept it in a pantry and you want to chill it quickly. Just remember to take it out after approximately half an hour. Otherwise, the bottle can shatter due to mixture expansion.
On the other hand, you can freeze homemade ice cream that contains Irish cream. Churning will stop ice cream from separating and prevent the formation of large chunks of ice. It will be enough to mix all your recipe ingredients, including chocolate, vanilla extract, and whipped cream with liqueur.
Don’t forget that alcohol-containing ice cream melts faster at room temperature than virgin ice-cream, so take the container out of the freezer just before serving.
The Risk of Consuming an Expired Irish Cream
Although you probably won’t enjoy the cocktail you prepared with expired Irish cream, chances to get sick are minimal. Using degraded alcohol will only result in altered taste and an unappetizing drink or dessert.
However, Irish cream can curdle if you expose it to acid like lemon or tonic water. A curdled liqueur is generally safe to consume, but it can cause gastrointestinal problems in people with a sensitive stomach, such as bloating and gases.
Exaggeration is never good, not even in consuming Irish cream. Although it has less than 20% alcohol, it can lead to alcohol poisoning if you drink it too much. Remember that it is different from food poisoning. Since it affects your heart rate, breathing, and temperature, this condition requires medical attention.
Irish cream is a versatile liqueur you can use for many cocktails, desserts, and fruit dips. You can store it both in your pantry and refrigerator, but it will go bad a couple of months after the expiration date. On the other hand, freezing it will ruin its texture, but you can use such cream to make ice-cream or Irish cream pops.