Paper Plane

Cocktails are always evolving and new concoctions are constantly introduced. Considering the variety of liquors, the sheer number of possible combinations is more than enough to collectively keep creative bartenders busy all their lives and well beyond. And for the home bartender there is a continued joy in discovery of what you can do with the ingredients at hand, whether that involves following someone else’s recipe or doing a little innovation of your own. 

The Paper Plane is a newer cocktail, introduced in 2008. Some celebrity bartender at some fancy bar or hotel. Yahda yahda yahda. I was introduced to it last week at a great cocktail bar, and I’m going to continue jiggering with it to get it just how I like it. It’s good because it uses liquors you are likely to have on hand, including Aperol, which is an absolute necessity for one of my favorite summer cocktails, the Aperol Spritz. 

  • 1 part rye whiskey*
  • 1 part Aperol
  • 1 part Amaro Nonino Quintessentia*
  • 1 part lemon juice (freshly squeezed is best)

Put all the ingredients together into a shaker with some ice and shake until condensation forms on the outside of the shaker. Strain into a rocks glass over ice. Aperol is technically one form of amaro, so this drink is heavy on the herbal notes. But it balances nicely. I’d personally suggest you start with slightly less than the full amount of lemon juice suggested as the lemon can quickly overwhelm the other flavors. 

* In full disclosure I’ve yet to have this drink exactly as noted above. The first one I was served used tequila rather than rye. And when I replicated the drink at home (using rye rather than tequila) I didn’t use Amaro Nonino Quintessentia but rather the locally sourced Margerum Amaro I had on hand already. The tequila version I first had was very lemon heavy and I need to try replicating it with less lemon. Frankly I think it would be better with orange or perhaps even grapefruit, but lemon is the universally accepted norm. That being said, you’re the bartender. Experiment. See what you like. And feel free to comment here on variations you’ve found enjoyable!