It’s the piece of apple on your cheese board, or the bread between courses. Palate cleansers are designed to freshen your mouth before, after or during a heavy meal, and allow you to fully appreciate the next dish – or drink.

Cocktail palate cleansers are growing in popularity, but they’re certainly not new. Famed French chef Auguste Escoffier was championing the use of alcohol and shaved ice as a palate cleanser in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

The concept still works in much the same way today. Kitty Gardner, bartender at Melbourne's Black Pearl and World Class Australia National Finalist, entered a palate-cleansing cocktail into the World Class Bartending competition this year. She says a palate-cleansing cocktail will usually have a few defining characteristics.

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“They’re not too heavy in alcohol, and usually effervescent,” Gardner says. “The bubbles help with digestion.”

Gardner’s cocktail, called Leaps and Bounds, is made with Tanqueray Gin, lemon juice, soda, lime and bitters. It’s light, fresh, easy to make and great to serve or order before dinner.

A palate cleanser could be something as simple as Vermouth on the rocks with a little citrus. Or it could be a Gin & Tonic with a slice of cucumber.

“Adding cucumber to anything will make it a palate cleanser, really,” smiles Gardner. “It’s got that freshness to it that’s great before or after a heavy meal.”

“If the palate cleanser isn’t a drink, it could be something along the lines of an alcoholic sorbet,” she adds. “Generally just a tiny scoop, two bites, nothing that will fill you up. It's something that allows you to distinguish between courses and digest your food.”

Leaps and Bounds
Approximately 1.2 standard drinks
Serves one


30ml Tanqueray Gin
15ml dry vermouth
10ml lemon, orange and vanilla syrup
5ml lemon juice
3 dashes lime bitters
30ml soda


Add all ingredients except for soda to a mixing glass and stir over ice.

Strain off into a wine glass, add fresh ice and top with soda.

Garnish with Blue Gum Eucalyptus pegged to the side of the glass.

This article is presented in partnership with World Class.