The paper plane cocktail is a modern-day classic that has taken the cocktail world by storm. It was created by New York bartender, Sam Ross, of Attaboy speakeasy in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Sam created the paper plane for a Chicago bar named The Violet Hour. It’s quickly become one of the few cocktails in my regular rotation thanks to just how tasty it is.
The cocktail was originally served with a tiny paper plane, which of course adds to the allure and overall presentation. You don’t need to be good at origami to pull it off, however, I’m usually skipping this step at home for obvious reasons.
Why This Recipe Works
- The paper plane is the perfect balance of bitterness, sweetness, and citrus. It’s refreshing and smooth and has thirst-quenching qualities without feeling heavy.
Made with equal parts bourbon, Amaro Nonino (bittersweet Italian Liqueur), Aperol, and fresh lemon juice. It’s a citrusy smooth and well-balanced cocktail with similar characteristics to the sidecar or brown derby. The cocktail has a pronounced bitterness and subtle sweetness from both the amaro and Aperol.
How to Make a Paper Plane Cocktail
Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker or mixing glass with a large cup of ice.
Gently shake or stir for 20 seconds and double strain into a chilled coupe glass. Optionally garnish with a tiny paper plane.
Tips & Tricks
- Always pre-chill your glasses with ice water or place them in the freezer! This keeps your drinks cooler for much longer.
- This cocktail should not be overshaken in order to preserve the overall body and not introduce too much water. Double straining with a fine mesh strainer will filter out tiny ice chips.
Frequently Asked Questions
Amaro is a bitter Italian liqueur that is typically sipped neat as an after-dinner digestif. It’s dark and syrupy in color and consistency and has herbal, citrusy, sweet, and bitter characteristics.
Amaro Nonino was the original Amaro liqueur intended for the Paper Plane. What makes it unique is its lighter color and profile compared to darker amaro. I’ve tried this cocktail with Averna and Montenegro amaros as substitutes and while it’s good, it just doesn’t hit the same.
I really like:
Similar Cocktails to Try
- Brown Derby
- Bee’s Knees
- Gold Rush with rosemary twist
- Last Word
- Whiskey Sour
- New York Sour
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The paper plane is a citrusy cocktail most similar to the characteristics of a more bitter whiskey sour or sidecar. It’s smooth, warm, and refreshing.
- 3/4 ounces bourbon
- 3/4 ounces Aperol
- 3/4 ounces amaro (pref. Amaro Nonino)*
- 3/4 ounces lemon juice
- Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker or mixing glass with a cup of ice.
- Gently shake or stir for 20 seconds and double strain into a chilled coupe glass. Optionally garnish with a tiny paper plane.
I’ve also used Amaro Averna and Amaro Montenegro as substitutes. It works but my favorite is Nonino by far.
Always pre-chill your glasses with ice water or place them in the freezer! This keeps your drinks cooler for much longer.
This cocktail should not be overshaken in order to preserve the overall body and not introduce too much water. Double straining with a fine mesh strainer will filter out tiny ice chips.
- Serving Size: 1
- Calories: 118
- Sugar: 17g
- Sodium: 4mg
- Fat: 0.2g
- Saturated Fat: 0.2g
- Carbohydrates: 17g
- Fiber: 0g
- Protein: 0.2g
- Cholesterol: 0mg
Keywords: paper plane cocktail