Can you store liquor in the freezer? Is your beer safe outside on a cold winter night? These are common questions and the answer depends on the beverage's alcohol content. In general, liquor will not freeze though beer and wine will.
What Is the Freezing Point of Alcohol?
Water freezes at 0 C (32 F) and the freezing point of pure ethanol alcohol is -114 C (-173.2 F). Alcoholic beverages are a mixture of both alcohol and water (in some cases, sugars and other additives as well) so the freezing point of your alcoholic beverages is somewhere in between.
The exact freezing point of vodka, tequila, rum, whiskey and liqueurs (as well as wine and beer) is dependent on its alcohol by volume (or its proof).
- The lower the alcohol content, the warmer the freezing point.
- The higher the alcohol content, the colder the freezing point.
|Type||ABV||Freezing Point||Notes and Examples|
|Beer||3-10%||-2 C (28 F)||Not recommended for the freezer beyond a quick chill.|
|Wine||8-14%||-5 C (23 F)||More than an hour or two in the freezer and your are putting the wine at risk.|
|40 Proof Liquor||20%||-7 C (22 F)||Includes many low-proof liqueurs like Irish cream. If left in a really cold freezer too long, these may get slushy, but this is rare.|
|64 Proof Liquor||32%||-23 C (-10 F)||A liqueur like amaretto and a flavored whiskey like Fireball would fall in this range. These should be okay in the freezer.|
|80 Proof Liquor||40%||-27 C (-17 F)||Includes most standard base liquors like gin, vodka, whiskey, etc. You're clear for the freezer!|
Note: These freezing points are not exact, particularly with the beer and wine. Use the temperatures as a general guideline. A small difference in the alcohol content will not make a big difference in whether or not your beverage will freeze. If it is close, the chances of freezing are high, so don't push the limits.
Best Alcohols to Freeze
The average home freezer is about -17 C (-1 F). This is cold enough to freeze your food and ice, but not cold enough to freeze the average bottle of 80-proof liquor.
Beer and wine have significantly less alcohol than most liquors and they can (and will) freeze. Placing a warm beer or white wine in the freezer for a quick chill can bring it down to drinking temperature quickly. Just don't forget it in there!
While the entire contents of the bottle will not freeze, the water will. This creates a slush out of your beverage and can ruin the flavor as well.
Water also expands as it freezes. If you leave beer or wine in the freezer too long, corks and caps may bulge or burst, the glass could crack, and aluminum cans will explode. This creates a nasty mess that will require a deep cleaning (possibly even defrosting) of your freezer.
To chill glass bottles of beer, wine, or soda faster, wrap the bottle in a wet paper towel and place it in the coldest part of the freezer. Within a few minutes, you will have an ice-cold drink without the slush.
Storing Alcohol Outside in the Winter
We have all done it... Guests bring beer and wine to the dinner party, but there's no room left in the refrigerator. However, there is a snow bank outside and it is a giant cooler, right?
Yes, this is the perfect scenario for keeping your drinks cold and it works fine for the few hours that the average party lasts. You just need to remember to bring it inside before the temperature really drops for the night. If you forget, you could end up with a giant beer slushy instead of a snow bank and that's just a waste of good beer!
Also, if it is really cold that night, keep an eye on the beer so it doesn't go to slush before the party ends.
Make Sure the Booze Doesn't Burst
When you are rushing around, particularly during the holidays, it can be really easy to forget about that great bottle of wine or the extra six-pack you stashed in the trunk. You may return in the morning to a big mess if the temperature gets too low overnight.
If you live in a cold climate and compare the temperature chart above with the low temperatures we can get, you know that even your 80 proof whiskey is in danger!
On the coldest nights of the year, place your liquor, beer, and wine in a place where you will notice them when getting out of the car. The same goes for soda, which can burst even faster than alcohol. Cleaning a frozen, sticky car in the middle of a snowstorm is not fun.
What About Spiked Frozen Desserts?
If alcohol doesn't freeze well, how do frozen treats with liquor work? The answer is quite simple: balance.
In order to make booze-filled goodies like poptails or spiked granitas, you need to keep the amount of alcohol low. Too much liquor -- particularly anything over 40 proof -- and it will not freeze.
- With ice pops, it is best to keep the mixer to alcohol ratio at 4:1 or lower. The same is true when freezing spiked granitas (Italian ice).
- In the case of fruit sorbets, a solidly frozen dessert is not the goal. Sorbets are best when soft and creamy. Quite often, liqueurs like Grand Marnier are used to keep it from freezing completely.