Skip to Content

Can Margarita Mix Go Bad

It’s a day or two after a big party you hosted (Cinco de Mayo, perhaps?) and you notice there are some leftover margarita mix buckets or bottles. Time to decide what to do with them. That’s when you start to think whether margarita mix can go bad, or how to tell if it’s past its prime. Or what is its shelf life after opening the bottle?

Fortunately for you (and your wallet), margarita mixes have quite a long shelf life. Even the already opened ones retain freshness for at least a couple of weeks, but definitely not long enough to last until the next year’s Cinco de Mayo.

Can Margarita Mix Go Bad? How To Tell If It’s Bad?

Cocktail mixes go bad, eventually. They are (basically) water loaded with sugar and preservatives, so they stay safe to drink for years. It’s not like you’re going to wake up one day and notice there’s mold in the bottle or bucket. Chances of that happening are slim to none.

Nevertheless, if you notice that the mix smells off (funny, sour, odd), or its color has changed, that’s a sure sign that it’s spoiled. Again, that doesn’t happen that often.

What’s most likely to happen is that the mix degrades in quality gradually. And at a certain point, you will notice that the smell is weak and flavor of the prepared drink lacking. That’s when it’s time to discard the ready-to-mix mixture and go buy another one, or open a fresh one. Or, if you’re feeling up to the challenge, you can make your own mix and freeze it ([TYL]).

Of course, you don’t have to guess for approximately how long the margarita mix will be of top quality. That’s what the date on the label is for.

Jose Cuervo Tequila - Good Tequila is a necessity for a good Margarita
(credit: Fidel Fernando)

How Long Does Margarita Mix Last?

All cocktail mixes have quite a long shelf life. When it comes to margarita mixes, they usually last between a year and a year and a half ([BB]). That period is included in the best-by date on the label.

As I already mentioned, that period is only a rough estimate that’s there to help you — no need to live and die by it. If your unopened mix is already a couple of weeks or even a couple of months past that date, it’s still worth checking if it’s good enough to use. Chances of it being spoiled are slim, and the worst probable outcome is that the prepared drink won’t taste that good. If that’s the case, it’s best if you discard it. But if it turns out okay, hey, you have a whole good mix to use!

Once you open the bottle or bucket, the process of quality loss speeds up. The mix should still be at peak quality for at least 6 to 8 weeks ([BB]) if you refrigerate it, possibly longer.

Again, it won’t spoil after that period, but its taste won’t necessarily satisfy your taste buds. Even if the leftovers sit in your fridge for months, it makes sense to give them a chance. You might still be able to make a decent margarita. Remember to keep the test drink tiny in volume, so if it turns out not that good, you don’t waste quality Tequila.

Last but not least, if you take good care of the mix, chances of it keeping peak quality for longer are much higher. Let’s talk about that.

How To Store Margarita Mix?

When it comes to storing non-alcoholic margarita mixes, things are super simple.

Before you open the package, all you need to do is to keep it in a cool and dark place. A cabinet in the pantry is probably the best choice, but the basement or the kitchen work too. Just make sure the temperature there stays fairly even, and it doesn’t sit in sunlight if it’s in a bottle. If you want, you can keep the mix in the fridge, but it doesn’t benefit that much from being refrigerated.

Once you open the mix, the leftovers should be chilled in the refrigerator and sealed tightly ([DC]). If you can’t seal the original package, transfer the mix to another bottle or a food-grade airtight container. Technically speaking, the mix can still sit at room temperature, but its quality drops much quicker. Hence most (if not all) margarita mixes come with “refrigerate after opening” statement on the label.

If you were a bit overeager and prepared more margarita than needed, store it in the fridge too.

In a Nutshell

  • Unopened margarita mix usually lasts between 12 and 18 months, often longer. If it’s a couple of weeks, or even a month or two, past its date, it might still be okay. Give it a try.
  • Opened margarita mix should be refrigerated and keeps quality for at least 6 – 8 weeks, possibly much longer.
  • If your mix is past its date, give it a try before you serve it to your guests. And use only a small amount in the test, so you don’t waste good Tequila if the mix turns out not up to par.
  • If you made too much margarita, store the leftovers in the fridge.