The Paper Plane Cocktail Recipe & History of the Paper Plane Cocktail

One look at the popularity of the paper plane cocktail, and you might think this is one of a selection of premium cocktails with a long, storied history. But, no, it’s a new addition to the scene, having only been introduced in 2008.

Despite the newness of the paper plane, it can still battle with the best of them. Featuring bitter, sour, and fruity notes, if you love your whisky sours, the paper plane cocktail could be for you.

Here’s everything you need to know about this cocktail.

Paper Plane Cocktail History

Anyone looking up the history of the paper plane may be surprised to learn that it was only invented in 2008 by Sam Ross.

Sam Ross is an award-winning bartender and the co-owner of the New York Attaboy and Diamond Reef. He aimed for the paper plane to be a variation of the Last Word cocktail.

Strictly speaking, there’s little in common between a Last Word cocktail recipe and the paper plane. But these two drinks follow the same template to create an equal-part cocktail. This carefully curated combination has resulted in a recipe that blends bitter, sour, and herbal notes.

Even though this fruity cocktail was invented by an NYC bartender, Ross created the cocktail for The Violet Hour in Chicago. So, why is it called a paper plane cocktail?

Ross explains that he was inspired by the smash hit Paper Plane from the band M.I.A. His Chicago guests enjoyed the cocktail so much that he brought the cocktail to New York City, where it would become one of the most popular cocktails in the Big Apple.

And the rest – as they say – is history.

But why is the paper plane so popular? In short, it’s a relatively simple cocktail you can make at home. Most home bars will have the mainstay paper plane cocktail ingredients of bourbon and lemon juice. The other ingredients, such as Aperol, are easy enough to come by.

What Does a Paper Plane Taste Like?

A paper plane done right should be slightly bitter, sour, and herbal. But it’s the fruitiness that’s designed to come through primarily.

However, the ratios are extremely temperamental when making this cocktail. Get it wrong, and your paper plane may taste too watery, or the premium bourbon will overpower the rest of the spirits.

According to the Seattle Times, which dubbed it as the city’s new “It” drink, Ross has provided a far more approachable cocktail than the Last Word. By switching out several ingredients, he has made a drink that’s robust, summery, and perfect for beginner whisky enthusiasts.

Paper Plane Variations

Like most of the best cocktail recipes, the paper plane has many variations to explore. Feel free to upgrade your drink, whether it’s some more elaborate paper plane cocktail garnish or replacing ingredients entirely.

Here are some ideas:

·                Campari Alternative – Today’s paper planes usually contain Aperol, but Campari is what Ross intended to use initially. Although marketed as an alternative, the Aperol version is the variation, not the original. However, the popularity of the Aperol Spritz spurred Aperol to become part of the official paper plane ingredients list.

·                Abano – What is a substitute for Amaro in a paper plane cocktail? Try Amaro Abano instead. Although they’re two types of Amari, we think the Abano is transformative enough to be a concrete replacement.

·                Paper Kamikaze – Fancy making it sweeter and stronger? The paper kamikaze uses rum as a base instead of bourbon.

·                Highwest – Here’s a more complicated option that replaces multiple paper plane cocktail IBA-specified ingredients. In this case, replace the bourbon and Amaro Nonino with Highwest Double Rye and Waterpocket Oread.

Note that each variation offers a new flavor and can be made at home relatively quickly. Feel free to conduct your own experiments once you become confident in making the original.

Best Weed Pairings for Paper Plane

Smoking up with your favorite marijuana strain is an ideal way of completing the experience of this magnificent cocktail.

If you’re wondering which cannabis pairings to try, here’s a short list:

·                Pineapple Express

·                Banana Kush

·                Magic Melon

·                Grapefruit

·                Sour Diesel

Of course, you can also devise your own pairings. Generally, complementary strains work best when full of fruity and/or citrus notes.

Cannabis & Cocktails – What You Should Know

Although this 22% ABV cocktail isn’t especially strong, you must take extra care when pairing the two. The last thing you want is to get cross-faded by drinking and smoking too much.

As a rule, we recommend drinking no more than a single cocktail per hour if you’re going to smoke simultaneously. We also recommend sticking to this rate if you’re drinking now and planning on blazing it later.

Paper Plane Cocktail Recipe – How to Make the Perfect Paper Plane Cocktail

Making up a dreamy strawberry daiquiri or a Cointreau kiss is a great way to start the evening, but why not take your mixology skills to the next level?

With 37% of people globally making more cocktails at home than in 2020, it’s clear that the number of home brewers is growing.

So, here’s a paper plane recipe for making this cocktail the way Ross intended.

·                Prep Time – Two minutes

·                Cook Time – One minute

·                Total Time – Three minutes

·                Serves – One person

·                Calories – 233 kcal


·                ¾ ounce of Amaro Nonino

·                ¾ ounce of bourbon

·                ¾ ounce of Aperol

·                Ice

·                One medium lemon


1.             Juice your lemon until you have ¾ ounce of juice.

2.             Fill a cocktail shaker with ice.

3.             Add lemon juice, bourbon, Amaro Nonino, and Aperol to your shaker.

4.             Shake until well chilled. The outside of the shaker should be frosty.

5.             Strain into a coupe glass and enjoy.


·                The ABV level of the paper plane cocktail is 22%.

·                Substitute Amaro Averna, Amaro Tosolini, or Jagermeister if you can’t find Amaro Nonino.

·                Reduce the amount of lemon juice for a more alcoholic taste, or increase it if your cocktail is too strong.

Sign-up to our Newsletter:

JJ Smoak

Brooklyn native, accent-having, travel lover, wordsmith and bud enthusiast. Versed from the streets of NYC, mixed with some world influence, writer/editor and medical user extraordinaire, JJ is here to tell you like it is and guide you to the finest. Brooklyn's favorite feminine stoner, your neighborhood contributor, wrapping leaves like a bandage and bringing you along for the ride.

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

Leave a reply

Flavor Fix
Compare items
  • Total (0)
Shopping cart