The Original Paper Plane Cocktail

The Original Paper Plane Cocktail

It’s rare that a recently invented cocktail takes the world by storm (ok, exaggeration) and makes it into the annals of cocktail legend (ok, more exaggeration). However if there was any modern cocktail to show as an example it would be this, the Paper Plane. The original paper plane cocktail was only created in 2007

The great thing about this cocktail is it’s known as an equal parts cocktail. This means you don’t actually need a measuring device, as long as each addition stays the same volume as the first. If I’m bartending at a friend’s place and they don’t have a jigger, I’ll just make equal parts cocktails using a shot glass.

Paper Plane Ingredients

The Original Paper Plane Cocktail

There are four ingredients in a paper plane cocktail. The official IBA ingredients list for the original paper plane are as specified:

  • 3 cl (30 ml) Bourbon
  • 3 cl (30 ml) Amaro Nonino
  • 3 cl (30 ml) Aperol
  • 3 cl (30 ml) Lemon Juice (freshly squeezed)

Making the Paper Plane cocktail is very easy. Just add all ingredients to a shaker with ice and give a hard shake for a few seconds before straining into a glass. For presentation I use my Riedel Nick & Nora’s, but you can use whatever you like. You cannot forget the best part though, the garnish: a maraschino brandied cherry and a paper plane for show.

The Original Paper Plane Cocktail with garnish

Paper Plane Cocktail Substitutions

While altering a cocktail usually changes the cocktail (after all, with only a few ingredients the flavor profile is easy to distort) there is one substitution I’m a fan of with the paper plane. This is the substitution of Amaro Montenegro for Amaro Nonino.

I actually think this is a popular move since Amaro Montenegro is more commonplace than Nonino, and in my personal opinion it improves the drink.

If you do sub Nonino for Montenegro, then I will also suggest subbing the Aperol for Campari. The added sweetness of Montenegro definitely benefits from the added bitterness of Campari.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What does a Paper Plane cocktail taste like?

A: A paper plane cocktail, with two different amaros, tastes like a more fruity or lighter Boulevardier. It is great for those who are not a fan of Campari, as Aperol is a little less bitter and a little more sweet.

Q: Does a Paper Plane use Rye or Bourbon Whiskey?

A: A classic Paper Plane cocktail uses Bourbon, at least according to the official recipe. However there is nothing stopping you from using Rye in its place, and some people might even like the more peppery Rye as a substitute!

Q: Is the Paper Plane cocktail a variation of another cocktail?

A: Yes! The Paper Plane is actually a riff of another famous cocktail: The Last Word. The Last Word of course is a very popular equal parts cocktail and it has plenty of other variations such as: The Final Ward, Last of the Oaxacans, and other creative punny names.

original paper plane recipe

The Original Paper Plane Cocktail

The paper plane, created in 2007, is one of the best modern cocktails. It's equal parts, so it's also a great starter cocktail for those looking to get into the game.
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time 2 minutes
Total Time 2 minutes
Course Cocktails, Drinks
Cuisine American
Servings 1 drink
Calories 265 kcal


  • Cocktail Shaker


  • 30 ml Bourbon I recommend Buffalo Trace
  • 30 ml Amaro Nonino can sub for Amaro Montenegro if you can't find Nonino
  • 30 ml Aperol should sub for Campari if you subbed the Nonino with Montenegro
  • 30 ml Lemon Juice freshly squeezed


  • Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake for a few seconds then double strain into a glass.
  • Garnish with a maraschino cherry and a paper plane.
Keyword Amaro Nonino, Bourbon, Campari Cocktails, Cocktails

The Original Paper Plane Cocktail

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