paper plane cocktail

Paper Plane


Liquor Type

Glass Type

Bourbon - 1 oz
Aperol - 1 oz
Amaro Nonino - 1 oz
freshy squeezed Lemon Juice - 1 oz

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker full of ice. Shake vigorously for at least 15 seconds. Strain the cocktail into a chilled coupe glass, and garnish with a lemon twist.

A Paper Plane cocktail is a one-of-a-kind drink made with fancy ingredients, unique flavors, and fun garnishes. The name is inspired by its namesake: paper airplanes. 

It is one of the simplest drinks that you can make at home with very little effort. It’s refreshing and it’s full of flavor—the perfect drink to serve to your guests when having dinner outdoors. 

A “Paper Plane” cocktail is a tasty mix of brown sugar simple syrup, golden rum, and soda water that is shaken together and then poured over ice. The ice melts, giving the drink a taste and texture that reminds you of a classic soda fountain.

Why is it called a “Paper Plane” cocktail?

Sam Ross, a bartender in New York City who is an expert on modern cocktails, made the Paper Plane drink for the Chicago bar The Violet Hour.

When he created the Paper Plane, he was inspired by the M.I.A. song “Paper Planes,” which was super popular during the summer that he created it. Based on a classic, prohibition-era cocktail called The Last Word (that uses equal parts of ingredients), the cocktail drink was made to be bright red and has beautiful layers of flavor that are satisfyingly surprising. 

What does a Paper Plane cocktail taste like?

Paper Plane cocktails are nothing short of delightful. The flavors and ingredients unite for a delicious cocktail that will keep you coming back for more. The sweetness and fruitiness of the Amari mask the whiskey. It is like a whiskey sour without the booze.

If you love making your own cocktails at home, Paper Plane is a must-try. It’s a drink in which the bitter, sweet, and tangy flavors come together in perfect harmony. 

It tastes like your favorite summer beverage but with a little something extra. Your taste buds will love the depth of flavor that is achieved by blending this unique drink in a blender instead of using ice cubes.

What does Amaro Nonino taste like?

Amaro Nonino is a complex and unique herbal bitter. It’s made with gentian root, juniper berries, hyssop, and other botanicals, all macerated in neutral alcohol for about 6 months. The color is a pale yellow to gold, with an aroma of gentian root; aromas of fresh citrus, cinnamon, and sweet spices fill the nose on the first breath.

It is an amaro that is most similar to the French aperitif wine, Dubonnet. Citrus fruits, herbs, and spices smell like citrus fruits, and the sweet and bitter flavors of Nonino taste like herbs, roots, and even flowers.

How to make a “Paper Plane” cocktail

The Paper Plane Cocktail is one of the simplest cocktails to make. 

Prepare equal parts of all the ingredients. Add bourbon, Aperol, Amaro, and lemon juice to a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake vigorously until the outside of the shaker is frosty, about 20 seconds. strained into two coupe glasses.

You won’t need to add any garnish or any other kind of mixture to this drink. It’s easy to make, even at home.

What is in a Paper Plane cocktail?

A tasty cocktail, the Paper Plane Cocktail, is bursting with fresh flavors. It’s a perfect drink for summer days out at the park or patio with friends.

The Paper Plane cocktail is made of bourbon, aperol, amaro nonimo quintessentia, and freshly squeezed lemon juice. The combination of all of the ingredients brings out the flavors to their full potential.

Who invented the Paper Plane cocktail?

The Paper Plane, a variation of the Last Word, is an official IBA cocktail. Its original inventor was Sam Ross, who invented the drink for The Violet Hour bar in Chicago. 

Ross had created his version of the Last Word drink with Campari. Two days later, Ross decided to add lemon juice to the Campari-bourbon mixture, but two days later he began to have doubts about his decision. He then added Aperol and was finally satisfied with the results.

He wanted to create a cocktail that was simple and delicious, so he chose four ingredients that were readily available and required no special syrups, infusions, or even garnish.

The Paper Plane was an instant success when it was introduced at The Violet Hour in Chicago and Milk & Honey and Little Branch in New York.

The History of the Paper Plane Cocktail 

Most people aren’t aware that Sam Ross, owner of Attaboy, the former Milk & Honey bar in New York City, invented two early paper planes. [Source: Kara Newman]  

Toby Maloney’s Violet Hour in Chicago (who is also a Milk & Honey alum) invented the drink in 2008. Ross created a summery version of the Last Word, a famous cocktail composed of equal parts gin, lime juice, maraschino liqueur, and chartreuse. Maloney requested it for the Violet Hour. Ross remembered the pre-Prohibition drink after Seattle bartender Murray Stenson revived it.

Ross’s new drink has four equal ingredients, like the Last Word: Bourbon replaced gin, lemon juice replaced lime, and Amaro Nonino replaced Chartreuse. Ross used Campari for maraschino because of its ruby color and bitterness.

The paper plane formula wasn’t mastered yet. Ross added Aperol to the cocktail to make it less bitter.

Popular Paper Plane Cocktail Variations

Since the Paper Plane is such a popular drink, there are probably dozens, if not hundreds, of different ways to make it. The most popular is replacing Aperol with a different orange (or red) bitter or Nonino with a different amaro, which changes the cocktail slightly. Craft cocktail bars and distillery tasting rooms serve local spirits nationwide.

The Naked and Famous Paper Plane is the most famous. The mezcal-lime-aperol-chartreuse cocktail was invented by New York City bartender Joaquin Simo. Simo calls the drink a Paper Plane-Last Word hybrid.

The official recipe calls for three-quarters of an ounce of each component, but it’s easy to scale up to feed a small group or divide into smaller amounts to make mini paper planes. 

The cocktail is shaken with ice to mix the lemon juice with the other ingredients, cool it, and generate a little froth. Strain into a chilled coupe glass or other stemmed cocktail glass.

Ross recommends a grapefruit or orange slice as a garnish. However, more bartenders are using a little paper plane on the glass rim as a creative, self-referential, and Instagram-worthy garnish.


With many years on the market, paper-plane cocktails are not new on the bar scene. Its unique combination of ingredients gives it a definite edge. Its simplicity makes it the perfect cocktail to make and drink at home.