Delicious drinks and a deeper understanding of ingredients are among the happy benefits of becoming a cocktail nerd. One sorry side effect, though, is a profusion of bottles, some of which one has no intention of ever sampling again. While we are strong advocates of having a wide collection of ingredients, enabling experimentation and the pleasure of introducing guests to new flavors, there's a limit to how many and, more importantly, how long bottles should reside in anyone's house.
Now we aren't talking about the fine furniture of a bar, those lovely bottles of good whiskey or rum which you can enjoy an ounce or two at a time for years; we've got our eye on the perishables: the flowers, not the dining table. There are also some other categories deserving of a bit of Discardia, so let's get specific about all of them and their recommended fate.
Let's face it. Not everything tastes good. This is the first category to move out of your life. Sometimes you hear about a weird new spirit or liqueur (more often the latter) with which you want to experiment, but you discover when you try it that you never want it to pass your lips again.
If you won't drink it or serve it soon and frequently to guests, send it on to someone else. If it goes beyond 'not to my taste' into the realm of 'purely dreadful', pour it down the drain and spare the world from its horribleness.
2. Frail flowers
Anything under 25% ABV is only going to last so long. You should be keeping it in the fridge. If it hasn't already gone off, start using it up at a faster pace and clear that space for a fresh bottle. Good vermouth is delicious on the rocks and often responds nicely to an orange twist. Liqueurs can be used to make Italian sodas. Try an ounce in a pint glass, topped with soda water and stirred. While you're at it, mark today's date in permanent marker on the label of each of those bottles and make a note in your calendar three months hence to purge anything still lurking weakly around.
3. Bits and bobs
There are ingredients which are fine, but not your favorites. The ones which you're always reaching past to get that beloved bottle. Consider using some of these up in making a punch for your next gathering of friends. Even a delicate one like Limmer's Gin Punch can often tolerate some careful mixing of compatible different brands. Get David Wondrich's wonderful book on punch and start being a fabulous (albeit deviously backbar clearing) host.
4. Too Good to Drink
Yes, it's good to extend your enjoyment of truly excellent spirits, but when you're down to the final few servings of something it's time to enjoy more not less. Life is uncertain and the survival of things contained in glass even less so; go ahead and have the good stuff. Figure out some unfulfilling expense you can cut (Do you really watch Netflix or cable enough to be worth that money?) and divert those funds toward replacing it with another spectacular bottle.