That dusty bottle of vermouth in your home bar—should it stay or should it go now? What about the Tia Maria you opened this summer? Cocktails.About.com wrote an excellent piece to help you evaluate whether your liquor cabinet needs a fresh start. Here are just a few of the highlights:

Base liquors (brandy, gin, rum, tequila, vodka and whiskey): Unopened, these bottles have an indefinite shelf life. Opened, they may begin to lose certain flavor qualities over the years.

Liqueurs and cordials: Unopened, they should last for months or even years. Opened bottles are likely to lose some of their characteristics. Look for sugar crystallizing on the bottom, discoloration, curdling or other changes.

Cream liqueurs: Unopened, these dairy, cream or egg liqueurs will spoil after a year and a half or so. Once opened, liqueurs such as Bailey’s Irish Cream should be consumed within a year; some of its cheaper cousins will deteriorate faster. Look for an expiration date on the bottle.

Fortified wines: Unopened, they have a long shelf life. Vermouth can be stored in an open bottle for at least a few months.

Mixers: Follow the recommended expiration date on the labels of all juices and bottled mixers. Usually it’s best to refrigerate these after opening.

Club soda, ginger ale and tonic water should be consumed when they’re opened or shortly after.

Categories: liquor cabinet, old, expired, expiration date, base liquor, brandy, gin, rum, tequila, vodka, whiskey, liqueurs, cordials, cream liqueurs, fortified wines, mixers, club soda, ginger ale, tonic water, refrigeration, shelf life