Paper Plane Cocktail

A bright red Paper Plane cocktail in coup with a lemon twist garnish, on a dark wood bar with a lemon and jigger beside it.

Sugar and spice and everything nice. 

by Erin Henderson

Years ago, my sister was working for a wine and spirit agency that represented an Italian amaro – a pleasingly bitter, herbal liqueur often sipped as a digestif after dinner. 

As she was looking for inventive ways to market this "inside baseball" spirit to a wider audience, she came across the Paper Plane, a modern-classic cocktail that was created in 2008 by Sam Ross, a leading New York City bartender. 

Blending the medicinal amaro with bitter Aperol, sweet bourbon, and tangy lemon, doesn't initially sound appealling. In fact, when she suggested it to me, it sounded pretty awful. 

But something magical happens in that strange brew, mixing distinct flavours to create a delicious symphony that hits all the high notes. 

You might also like: Corpse Reviver

Paper Plane Cocktail

I like to serve the Paper Plane during the holiday season, when the weather has turned a bit frightful, but the festivities are in full swing. Warming, but also bright and herbal, this dramatically red-hued cocktail is comfort and joy. 

Makes: 1 drink
Bartender level: easy

  • 1 oz bourbon
  • 1 oz amaro (Amaro Nonino is popular, but I use Montenegro)
  • 1 oz Aperol
  • 1 oz lemon juice
How to Make It: 
  1. Add all ingredients to a shaker filled with ice, and shake until well chilled. 
  2. Strain into a chilled coup. 


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