Paper Plane Cocktail Drink

Paper Plane

A shot of Gavin Wrigley looking to the camera in a dimly lit room
Written by Gavin Wrigley
Andrea
Tested by
Andrea Ottaiano

The Paper Plane cocktail is sheer joy; with this easy recipe, you’ll master the perfect balance of its ingredients in no time.

Paper Plane Recipe

Experience the crispness in this straightforward Paper Plane recipe! Crafted with Bourbon, Amaro Nonino, Aperol, and lemon juice, this cocktail is fresh air.

Prep time:

1 minute

Mixing time:

1 minute

Servings:

1

Calories:

276 kl

Ingredients

  • 1 oz Bourbon
  • 1 oz Amaro Nonino, or your favorite Amaro
  • 1 oz Aperol
  • 1 oz fresh lemon juice
  • Ice cubes
  • Lemon twist, for garnish, optional

Equipment

  • Cocktail Shaker
  • Measuring Jigger
  • Cocktail Strainer and Fine-strainer
  • Cocktail Glass

Instructions

  • Prep Glass: Stir some ice cubes into your cocktail glass to chill it.
  • Add Lemon Juice: Squeeze into the shaker 1 oz fresh lemon juice.
  • Add Aperol: Add 1 oz Aperol to the shaker.
  • Add Amaro Nonino: Measure and pour 1 oz Amaro Nonino.
  • Add Bourbon: Pour 1 oz Bourbon into the shaker.
  • Prep Shaker: Fill your cocktail shaker three-quarters full with ice cubes.
  • Shake: Cap your shaker and shake vigorously until well-chilled.
  • Strain: Fine Strain the mixture into the chilled cocktail glass.
  • Garnish: Twist a lemon peel over the drink for aromatics (optional) and garnish with a paper plane on the rim of the glass.

Notes

Substitutes:

Making the perfect Paper Plane can sometimes require a little improvisation. If Bourbon's not your thing, an aged rum or rye whiskey works wonders. They're both robust and full-bodied, which complements the bitter-sweet synergy of Amaro and Aperol. Speaking of Amaro, if Nonino's hard to come by, try Amaro Montenegro. It's a tad sweeter but maintains that herbal complexity we're after. Aperol's unique, but in a pinch, Campari steps in nicely—brace yourself for an extra kick of bitterness!

Making a Pitcher of Paper Plane:

  • Scale: Ready for a gathering? Multiply all the ingredients by 8 for a crowd-pleaser. You'll need 8 oz of Bourbon, 8 oz of Amaro Nonino, 8 oz of Aperol, and 8 oz of fresh lemon juice.
  • Mix: Combine all these in a large pitcher over a generous amount of ice, then stir briskly.
  • Serve: Strain the mix into chilled cocktail glasses, garnish with a lemon twist, and watch them disappear!

Making it Non-Alcoholic:

  • Bourbon Substitute: Swap out the Bourbon for a non-alcoholic whiskey alternative or use a strong black tea for body and a touch of bitterness—it's unconventional, but trust me, it works!
  • Amaro/Aperol Substitute: For Amaro and Aperol, a mix of non-alcoholic herbal aperitif and a splash of fruit-infused vinegar (like raspberry) mimics the sweet, sour, and bitter profile.
  • Proceed As Usual: Use these non-alcoholic substitutes and follow the original steps for a mocktail version of the Paper Plane that keeps the spirit—sans spirits!

Making it Vegan:

Good news! The classic Paper Plane recipe is inherently vegan. However, be mindful of the Bourbon and Amaro you're using. Some brands use animal products in processing (like honey or milk derivatives) or barrel-cleaning agents. Opt for brands known for their vegan processes to keep your cocktail cruelty-free. And, of course, ensure your garnishes are vegan-friendly too.

Nutrition Facts

Calories
276
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
0.3
g
0
%
Saturated Fat
 
0.04
g
0
%
Sodium
 
6
mg
0
%
Carbohydrates
 
27
g
9
%
Fiber
 
0.1
g
0
%
Sugar
 
23
g
26
%
Potassium
 
49
mg
1
%
Protein
 
0.1
g
0
%
Polyunsaturated Fat
 
0.04
g
Monounsaturated Fat
 
0.01
g
Vitamin A
 
2
IU
0
%
Vitamin C
 
11
mg
13
%
Calcium
 
2
mg
0
%
Iron
 
0.1
mg
1
%

 

Paper Plane Cocktail Drink

Paper Plane Recipe

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Experience the crispness in this straightforward Paper Plane recipe! Crafted with Bourbon, Amaro Nonino, Aperol, and lemon juice, this cocktail is fresh air.
Prep time: 1 minute
Mixing time: 1 minute
Servings: 1
Calories: 276

Ingredients
 

  • 1 oz Bourbon
  • 1 oz Amaro Nonino - or your favorite Amaro
  • 1 oz Aperol
  • 1 oz fresh lemon juice
  • Ice cubes
  • Lemon twist - for garnish, optional

Equipment

  • Cocktail Shaker
  • Measuring Jigger
  • Cocktail Strainer and Fine-strainer
  • Cocktail Glass

Instructions

  • Prep Glass: Stir some ice cubes into your cocktail glass to chill it.
  • Add Lemon Juice: Squeeze into the shaker 1 oz fresh lemon juice.
  • Add Aperol: Add 1 oz Aperol to the shaker.
  • Add Amaro Nonino: Measure and pour 1 oz Amaro Nonino.
  • Add Bourbon: Pour 1 oz Bourbon into the shaker.
  • Prep Shaker: Fill your cocktail shaker three-quarters full with ice cubes.
  • Shake: Cap your shaker and shake vigorously until well-chilled.
  • Strain: Fine Strain the mixture into the chilled cocktail glass.
  • Garnish: Twist a lemon peel over the drink for aromatics (optional) and garnish with a paper plane on the rim of the glass.

Notes

Substitutes:

Making the perfect Paper Plane can sometimes require a little improvisation. If Bourbon's not your thing, an aged rum or rye whiskey works wonders. They're both robust and full-bodied, which complements the bitter-sweet synergy of Amaro and Aperol. Speaking of Amaro, if Nonino's hard to come by, try Amaro Montenegro. It's a tad sweeter but maintains that herbal complexity we're after. Aperol's unique, but in a pinch, Campari steps in nicely—brace yourself for an extra kick of bitterness!

Making a Pitcher of Paper Plane:

  • Scale: Ready for a gathering? Multiply all the ingredients by 8 for a crowd-pleaser. You'll need 8 oz of Bourbon, 8 oz of Amaro Nonino, 8 oz of Aperol, and 8 oz of fresh lemon juice.
  • Mix: Combine all these in a large pitcher over a generous amount of ice, then stir briskly.
  • Serve: Strain the mix into chilled cocktail glasses, garnish with a lemon twist, and watch them disappear!

Making it Non-Alcoholic:

  • Bourbon Substitute: Swap out the Bourbon for a non-alcoholic whiskey alternative or use a strong black tea for body and a touch of bitterness—it's unconventional, but trust me, it works!
  • Amaro/Aperol Substitute: For Amaro and Aperol, a mix of non-alcoholic herbal aperitif and a splash of fruit-infused vinegar (like raspberry) mimics the sweet, sour, and bitter profile.
  • Proceed As Usual: Use these non-alcoholic substitutes and follow the original steps for a mocktail version of the Paper Plane that keeps the spirit—sans spirits!

Making it Vegan:

Good news! The classic Paper Plane recipe is inherently vegan. However, be mindful of the Bourbon and Amaro you're using. Some brands use animal products in processing (like honey or milk derivatives) or barrel-cleaning agents. Opt for brands known for their vegan processes to keep your cocktail cruelty-free. And, of course, ensure your garnishes are vegan-friendly too.

What is a Paper Plane?

A Paper Plane cocktail mixes Bourbon, Amaro Nonino, Aperol, and fresh lemon juice. The drink stands out for its easy mix of strong, sour, and a bit of sweet. The name “Paper Plane” isn’t old or fancy; it’s just a nod to a song from when the drink first came out. The International Bartender Association(IBA) officially recognizes the cocktail as one among the “New Era Drinks”.

A side shot of a Paper Plane cocktail in a cocktail glass on a wooden coaster placed on a blue table with a white cloth, a jigger, and two lemons

What is a Paper Plane made of – The cocktail ingredients

Collect these ingredients before you start making your Paper Plane Cocktail:

  • Bourbon: Adds a strong, warm base that gives the cocktail its depth.
  • Amaro Nonino: Brings in a sweet herbal flavor with a hint of bitterness, adding complexity.
  • Aperol: Offers a bright, slightly bitter citrus taste, adding a refreshing element.
  • Fresh Lemon Juice: Introduces a tangy zest, balancing the cocktail with a clean sharpness.

Aperol, Amaro, Bourbon and two lemons laid out on a white bar table.

How do you make a Paper Plane Cocktail?

Join us in making your own Paper Plane by following our guide:

1
<p>Start by filling a coupe glass with ice cubes, and give it a few stirrings ensuring it will be chilled later on.</p>

Start by filling a coupe glass with ice cubes, and give it a few stirrings ensuring it will be chilled later on.

2
<p>Pour in a cocktail shaker the lemon juice for some citric notes.</p>

Pour in a cocktail shaker the lemon juice for some citric notes.

3
<p>Measure and add the aperol giving the drink its distinctive color and aroma.</p>

Measure and add the aperol giving the drink its distinctive color and aroma.

4
<p>Pour the amaro adding a bittersweet taste.</p>

Pour the amaro adding a bittersweet taste.

5
<p>Add the bourbon for the backbone of the mixture.</p>

Add the bourbon for the backbone of the mixture.

6
<p>Ice up the shaker.</p>

Ice up the shaker.

7
<p>Secure the top, and shake vigorously for about 15-20 seconds; you’re aiming for a well-mixed, chilled, and slightly diluted cocktail.</p>

Secure the top, and shake vigorously for about 15-20 seconds; you’re aiming for a well-mixed, chilled, and slightly diluted cocktail.

8
<p>Remove the ice cubes from your chilled coupe glass.</p>

Remove the ice cubes from your chilled coupe glass.

9
<p>Find a filter and position it over the mouth of the shaker to catch the ice as you pour the cocktail into your coupe glass, use also a fine strainer for a perfect serve.</p>

Find a filter and position it over the mouth of the shaker to catch the ice as you pour the cocktail into your coupe glass, use also a fine strainer for a perfect serve.

10
<p>Garnish with a paper plane for an artistic touch.</p>

Garnish with a paper plane for an artistic touch.

11
<p>Enjoy your Paper Plane cocktail!</p>

Enjoy your Paper Plane cocktail!

What can I use instead of Amaro Nonino for a Paper Plane Cocktail?

Swapping out Amaro Nonino in your Paper Plane can be adventurous, offering a fresh spin on this modern classic. As mentioned, If you’re eyeing an alternative, consider Amaro Montenegro for its lighter, citrusy notes that play nicely with Aperol’s fruity bitterness. Amaro Lucano is another solid pick, lending a more robust herbal kick that stands up to the Bourbon’s bold character. Amaro Averna makes a rich substitute for a deeper, more caramel-like sweetness. Though it may dominate the drink’s delicate balance, consider dialing back the quantity just a touch.

A Paper Plane cocktail, shot from above, on a white marmol table with a Bourbon bottle, an Aperol bottle, an Amaro bottle, and two lemons around.

History and Origins of the Paper Plane Cocktail

The Paper Plane cocktail has a relatively recent history, emerging on the cocktail scene in the early 21st century. The famous bartender Sam Ross, created the drink in 2007 for The Violet Hour in Chicago. Inspired by the Last Word, a Prohibition-era cocktail, Ross sought to craft a drink that balanced sweet, sour, and bitter components in equal parts.

The choice of ingredients was both deliberate and serendipitous. Ross combined Bourbon, Amaro Nonino, Aperol, and lemon juice, aiming for a harmony between the boldness of the whiskey, the herbal sweetness of the Amaro, the bitter and fruity undertones of the Aperol, and the citrus zing of the lemon. The result was a refreshingly balanced, strong, approachable cocktail with a complex flavor profile.

 

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FAQ

How many calories are in a Paper Plane cocktail?
A standard serving cocktail contains approximately 220 calories, depending on the specific brands of alcohol used.
How strong is a Paper Plane cocktail?
The strength can vary slightly based on the brands of ingredients used, but typically, a Paper Plane has an ABV of around 23-26%, which is about 46-52 proof.
What type of alcohol is in a Paper Plane?
A Paper Plane includes bourbon whiskey, Amaro Nonino, and Aperol.
What does a Paper Plane taste like?
The cocktail offers a balanced taste profile that includes the boldness of Bourbon, the herbal sweetness of Amaro Nonino, Aperol's slight bitterness and fruitiness, and fresh lemon juice's tanginess.
What is the ratio of ingredients in a Paper Plane?
The Paper Plane follows a simple 1:1:1:1 ratio, meaning equal parts of each ingredient: Bourbon, Amaro Nonino, Aperol, and lemon juice.
How is a Paper Plane served regarding ice?
A Paper Plane is typically shaken with ice and then strained into a glass, serving it "up" without ice.
In what glass is a Paper Plane traditionally served?
It's traditionally served in a coupe glass.

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