November 14, 2023 by Anna-Bet Stemmet
The Paper Plane cocktail has taken the world by storm and is one of the most popular recipes here on The Mixer. If you’re keen to try out a few fun Paper Plane cocktail variations, this easy guide will help you hit the cocktail runway in style.
Even though the Paper Plane drink recipe was only created in 2008, it has a strapping old-world vibe that appeals to many cocktail enthusiasts. Its inventor, Sam Ross, is a celebrated bartender and co-owner of various amazing bars in New York. He named his creation after a song by a band called M.I.A., also named Paper Planes, which was headlining every radio hitlist during the summer of 2008.
Here are a few twists on this modern classic that always hit the right notes:
1. Naked and Famous
If you love a drink with a line-up of exciting ingredients, you’ve got to try the Naked and Famous. Combining equal parts mezcal, Aperol, yellow Chartreuse, and fresh lime juice, it’s intensely flavored yet beautifully balanced—the perfect drink for your next dinner party.
2. The Regional Jet
If you are a fan of a hint of herbal bitterness in your cocktail, we highly recommend the Regional Jet. To make one, add 1 oz bourbon, 0.75 oz Aperol, 0.75 oz herbal liqueur (we love Cynar), 0.75 oz fresh lemon juice, and ice to a cocktail shaker. Shake until frosty, then strain into a chilled glass and garnish with an orange ribbon if preferred.
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3. Paper Kamikaze
Sometimes you just have to play fast and loose with a drink format to see what works, and the Paper Kamikaze certainly did not go up in flames. It swaps bourbon for aged rum, and it works. Combine 0.75 oz aged rum, 0.75 oz Amaro Averna, 0.75 oz Campari, and 0.75 oz fresh lemon juice in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake until combined, strain into a chilled cocktail glass, and garnish with an origami paper plane before serving.
Read next: The Ultimate List of 2-Ingredient Rum Drinks
4. Amen Corner
Paper Plane ingredients have been switched up to great effect for years, and we are big fans of this sprightly riff. The Amen Corner comes to the party with a kiss of mint instead of lemon. Muddle 4 to 5 mint leaves in your cocktail shaker. Add 2 oz bourbon, 1 oz Aperol, 0.75 Amaro Averna, and ice. Shake until frosty, strain into a chilled coupe glass, and garnish with a brandied cherry.
5. Winglet cocktail
A winglet is that vertical fin on the tip of an aircraft wing that reduces drag. While we don’t know who created this classic drink, one thing is for sure: this Paper Plane variation is certainly no drag!
To make a Winglet cocktail, add ice, 1 oz bourbon, 1 oz Aperol, 0.75 oz lemon juice, and 0.5 oz orange juice to a cocktail shaker. Shake to chill, and strain into a serving glass. Drop a cherry in the bottom and slowly add 0.5 oz grenadine, allowing it to sink to the bottom. Do not stir again.
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6. The Cutter
Sometimes even the smallest change to an existing recipe can yield a completely different and wholly compelling drink. Such is the case with the Cutter recipe, which was developed by bartender Alec Bales at the Ticonderoga Club in Atlanta. To make one at home, add 1.5 oz whiskey, 0.75 oz Campari, 0.5 oz amaro, 0.75 oz lemon juice, and 0.25 oz simple syrup to a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake until frosty, and strain into a chilled serving glass.
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7. Airport Bar
We love hanging out in airport bars because there are no rules! Clinking drinks to an imminent trip at 10:00 in the morning? Sure thing, travelers! Naturally, the cocktail named after this magical place is a treat as well. To make an Airport Bar at home, add 1 oz bourbon, 0.75 o Aperol, 0.75 oz fresh lemon juice, and 0.5 oz strawberry liqueur to a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake to chill, strain into a chilled serving glass, and garnish with a strawberry slice.
8. Business Class
Paper plane with gin and bubbly in the mix? Don’t mind if we do! It’s an upgrade to a whole new level, honey. To make one, add ice, 1 oz gin, 0.5 oz Aperol, and 0.5 oz fresh lemon juice to a cocktail shaker. Shake to chill, strain into a chilled Champagne flute, top off with Prosecco, and garnish with an orange slice.
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9. First Officer Spritz
We adore a sprightly Spritz cocktail, and this drink is up there with the most enchanting of them all. Add a scoop of crushed ice to a large wine glass, then add 1 oz Aperol, 0.75 oz fresh lemon juice, and 0.5 oz bourbon. Top off with club soda, give it a stir to combine, and garnish with some fun fruity bits and bobs.
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Well, now you know—there are all sorts of amazing Paper Plane cocktail variations. Let us know which one is your favorite, and tag us in your pictures on the ‘Gram. Also, remember to sign up for our newsletter to get a serious serving of inspiration dished up in your inbox.