If you love a modern drink with a classic vibe, the Paper Plane cocktail is going to tick all of your boxes. A totally delicious spin on the iconic Last Word cocktail that had its heyday in the Prohibition era, the Paper Plane drink recipe is fruity and sweet with a strong bourbon backbone and a gorgeous note of bitterness that lingers like the last note of a truly great song.
Choose a sipping bourbon with a sweet, smooth taste.
Fresh lemon juice adds a gorgeous bright note that pulls the whole drink together.
Pairs beautifully with the bold flavors of smoked meats and aged Parmesan.
Combine the Amaro Nonino, Aperol, bourbon and lemon juice in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake vigorously until the outside of the shaker is frosty
Strain into a coupe glass and serve
A brief history of the Paper Plane cocktail
Even though it has that strapping old-world cocktail vibe, the Paper Plane drink recipe was actually only devised in 2008. 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.
What is an Italian amaro?
Amaro is an Italian herbal liqueur typically enjoyed as an after-dinner digestif. It usually has a bitter-sweet flavor, is often quite syrupy, and has an alcohol content between 16% and 40%. One great example is Campari, a vibrant red liqueur with a singular bitter taste that provides a magnificent aromatic structure for classic cocktails like the Negroni, and now the Paper Plane as well.
Learn more: What is an Aperitif and When is it Served?
How to properly serve a Paper Plane cocktail
Here are a few things to bear in mind when you learn how to make a Paper Plane cocktail for the first time:
Choose a sipping bourbon
The bourbon you use in this type of equal-part cocktail should be smooth and easy enough to sip by itself. We love a Wild Turkey 101 Bourbon with its sweet, smooth taste, vanilla aroma, and spicy, orange-laced finish.
Squeeze the lemons yourself (if you can)
Fresh is best, friend! The lemon juice has a very important role to play in this complex cocktail — it has to add a very bright note that pulls it all together. So, if you have access to fresh lemons and the time to get squeezing, do so. It’s 100% worth it.
Pair your Paper Plane to perfection
The distinct flavor profile of Paper Plane ingredients calls for foods with bold flavors. Think charcuterie platters with smoked meats and strong cheeses like aged Parmesan or Romano. And if you love this one, try a classic Last Word cocktail next!