Hair Styles

Paper Plane Cocktail – A Beautiful Mess


The Paper Plane cocktail recipe is a great bourbon drink to add to your home bar skillset. If you love to order fancy and unique cocktails, this recipe is a must for you. The combination of bourbon, Aperol, amaro and lemon juice is a bright orange cocktail that is citrusy, botanical and warming with the perfect sweet and bitter balance.

Related: Old Fashioned Cocktail, ManhattanNegroni, Rusty Nail, Espresso Martini.

Ingredients in a Paper Plane

  • Bourbon – Adds sweetness and warmth to this recipe.
  • Aperol – A citrusy, botanical liqueur that gives this recipe color and flavor.
  • Amaro Nonino – This sweet liqueur adds unique flavor and depth. 
  • Lemon Juice – Fresh citrus for the perfect balance.

The best glassware choice for this cocktail is a coupe glass. I used a gold cocktail pick to secure my tiny paper airplane garnish.

Instructions

In a cocktail shaker half filled with ice cubes, pour in bourbon, Aperol and Amaro Nonino. Then add freshly squeezed lemon juice. 

Shake for 10-15 seconds until well chilled. 

Pour into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with a tiny paper plane or an orange twist.

What does a Paper Plane drink taste like?

This is a sweet and strong cocktail. Composed of equal parts bourbon, Aperol, amero and lemon juice, this drink is balanced. It’s both bitter and sweet. The top flavor is citrus, followed by notes of botanical bitters and woodsy bourbon. 

The Paper Plane is a modern take on the Last Word Cocktail, which is another equal parts drink made using gin, green chartreuse, maraschino liqueur and lime juice. Although these two drinks have few ingredients in common, the unique combination of citrus, botanical liqueurs and liquor to create a unique sweet and strong cocktail are the same. The two drinks are cousins and happen to be two of my personal favorite cocktails. Try both and see which recipe you love most.

History

We share cocktails all the time here on the blog and I’ve honestly never seen such a recent instant classic! Most popular drinks have been around more than 100 years, or close to it! This drink was created by bartender Sam Ross in 2008. Sam is a well known bartender and the co-owner of Attaboy and Diamond Reef in New York City. Although Ross is a NYC bartender, he created this recipe specifically for The Violet Hour in Chicago. He named the drink after the M.I.A. song “Paper Planes,” which he says he was listening to constantly at the time. 

On creating the recipe, Ross recalls, “That .75-ounce of bourbon, to be sure, I tried it with every type of spirit — rye, applejack, brandy — to really make sure that bourbon was the right fit. And it was.”

Tips for Making

  • If you don’t have Aperol on hand, you can substitute in Campari, but the resulting cocktail will be more bitter (add a bit of simple syrup, to taste, to counteract this). 
  • Amaron Nonino is a bit pricey (around $50 per bottle) and can be tricky to find. Some substitutions are Amaro Averna, Amaro Montenegro or Cynar (which is Italian Amaro). 
  • Garnish ideas: A tiny paper plane is the most adorable garnish. Other ideas are a lemon peel or orange twist.

Serving Suggestions

FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions

What is in a Paper Plane cocktail?

Equal parts bourbon, Aperol, Amaro Nonino and lemon juice.

Is Paper Plane a strong cocktail?

Yes, the Paper Plane is a spirit forward cocktail.


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get the recipe
Get the Recipe

Learn to make a Paper Plane cocktail using only four ingredients.

Yield 1 cocktail

Prep 3 minutes

Instructions

  • In a cocktail shaker half filled with ice cubes, pour in bourbon, Aperol and Amaro Nonino. Then add freshly squeezed lemon juice.

  • Shake for 10-15 seconds until well chilled. 

  • Pour into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with a tiny paper plane or an orange twist.

Notes

  • If you don’t have Aperol on hand, you can substitute in Campari, but the resulting cocktail will be more bitter (add a bit of simple syrup, to taste, to counteract this). 
  • Amaron Nonino is a bit pricey (around $50 per bottle) and can be tricky to find. Some substitutions are Amaro Averna, Amaro Montenegro or Cynar (which is Italian Amaro). 
  • Garnish ideas: A tiny paper plane is the most adorable garnish. Other ideas are a lemon peel or orange twist.

Nutrition

Nutrition Facts

Paper Plane Cocktail

Amount per Serving

% Daily Value*

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

Notice: Nutrition is auto-calculated, using Spoonacular, for your convenience. Where relevant, we recommend using your own nutrition calculations.



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