The new year is a time when many of us reconsider our habits, appearances, and surroundings. For some, that comes in the form of New Year’s resolutions. For others, Dry January — the annual tradition of abstaining from alcohol for a month — is a common practice. Others still take it as an opportunity to part with the old and start anew. So why not start with our booze?
From our bar carts and liqueur shelves to our beer fridges and beyond, the start of a new year is an excellent time to take stock of what you have and replenish your inventory. “A lot of people are motivated at the beginning of the year, so this is the time to use that motivation to get something done that’s going to last,” says Jessica Haizman, whose cleaning and organizing videos have racked up millions of likes on TikTok.
For pro tips on how best to start the organization process, VinePair asked Haizman to share her best practices. Here are some of her tips and tricks for keeping your spirit stock tidy and organized.
Clean things out
“When I look in people’s fridges, it is one of the grossest places,” says Haizman. “Especially an outdoor or garage beer fridge that just has exploded beers and disgustingness — and that seems really daunting to have to clean.” Despite the overwhelming nature of the task, she insists that “a microfiber cloth and a multipurpose spray will get all of that off super easily. And then you’re going to feel so much happier every time you open that fridge.”
Before anything else, Haizman says, it’s important to clear out the fridge or bar cart you’re organizing before starting to rearrange. “You want to take everything out … because this is going to allow you to get a really good, deep clean,” she says. As these spots are often neglected, and prone to spills, a good wipe down will do wonders. As you take each item off the shelves, pay attention to expiration dates, and assess what you don’t use anymore.
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After emptying everything out and cleaning off your shelves, it’s time to take a look at what you have, and make a mental note of what you typically buy a lot of. “Figuring out your normal purchases is really going to help you set up a successful system,” Haizman says. “If you’re setting up for one bottle of wine on your bar cart, but you usually have four, it’s going to end up looking crowded and it’s not going to stay tidy, which is the goal.”
Then, note if there are any items you’ve bought that aren’t being put to use. “You want to set up a system that’s going to last, so you really want to take into account what your purchases normally are and what you don’t use,” Haizman says. If you’re running low on any items you normally keep in the house, be sure to restock them. At the same time, determine how much space you typically require for larger items, like growlers or boxes of wine, and be sure to leave that space open before putting everything back on your shelves.
If it doesn’t spark joy … pour it out
Take a page out of Marie Kondo’s rule book here. Old, opened liqueurs with crystalized sugar particles under their caps are not bringing anyone joy. While these liqueurs won’t necessarily go bad due to their high ABVs, exposure to the elements can alter their textures and tastes. That means it’s probably time to toss that bottle of grapefruit liqueur you used once back in 2018 and dump those opened jars of Maraschino cherry and olive garnishes that have been sitting in your refrigerator for months.
Lucky for aficionados, spirits can last on shelves for years — especially unopened ones. But for those bottles you’ve been working through for years, it may be time to say goodbye. “With alcohol, especially liquors, they last about two to three years before they start to decrease in quality,” Haizman says. While you should give them a taste before bidding them adieu, it’s likely that older, opened spirits will have undergone some amount of oxidation, which can result in evaporation or changes in the liquid’s flavor.
Cream-based liqueurs have a shorter shelf life than most alcohols, so be sure to check their expiration dates. Generally, unopened bottles that haven’t reached expiration can stay on your shelf (or be poured into your coffee). But opened bottles of cream liqueurs should be kept in the fridge for no more than six months.
Dust off those old bottles
Any bottles you do decide to keep are likely in need of a good dusting. But Haizman concedes that while necessary, “dusting off wine bottles is a chore” — especially for those who have larger collections. “I feel for the people who have full wine racks or [wines] in their basement. There’s really no time-saving method,” she says.
However, there are plenty of dusting products, like microfiber wands, available on the market that allow collectors to reach deeper into their shelves. When it comes to individual bottles, Haizman says no fancy products are needed. “A microfiber cloth works great. It’s just about scheduling that time and making it enjoyable,” she says. Haizman suggests putting on a show or podcast to make the process go by faster
And don’t forget to give your glassware some love. Cleaning your glasses each week, month, or before you’re planning to host guests will keep them from accumulating too much dust, and keep your drinks looking great.
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Create an organizational system
Once you’ve narrowed down your beverages to the ones you want to keep, it’s time to create an organizational system that you can stick to. Haizman says the key to keeping your fridge neat is organizers for wine, beer, and mixers. Keep like products together, or organize by can or bottle size, shape, or even color. If you really want to get fancy, you can install a can organizer that pushes drinks to the front of your shelves, essentially transforming your beer fridge into a vending machine. This way, Haizman says, “you always have a nice view when you open the fridge, and you can restock it really easily.”
For bar carts, it’s all about design. As these spaces are as much about aesthetic as they are about function, Haizman says the most important thing is to figure out how to design it to your liking and purchase anything you need to achieve your vision. She suggests adding functional decor like lemons or limes, eye-catching glassware, or cocktail books to make the best use of the small space.
Feeling inspired? So are we. Though these projects may feel like huge undertakings, Haizman reminds us that our future selves will thank us later. “It’s a great way to set yourself up for the year — especially if you are using this time to stock your beer fridge for all the parties that you’re going to have in 2022,” she says. “It’s awesome to get all of it in a good system that’s going to last.”