Paper Plane

“I fly like paper, get high like planes
If you catch me at the border I got visas in my name
If you come around here, I make ’em all day
I get one done in a second if you wait”
M.I.A. “Paper Planes”

The Paper Plane is a contemporary riff on the resurgent American classic, the Last Word, which still holds a cherished spot as my personal favorite cocktail. So, when the Paper Plane appeared on the scene, it was simply impossible to resist the temptation to give it a try.

This cocktail came into being in 2008, a product of Toby Maloney’s endeavor to establish a fresh bar experience at The Violet Hour in Chicago. Toby Maloney enlisted the talents of his colleague Sam Ross, the skilled bartender from New York’s iconic Milk & Honey bar, to craft an original libation for the new establishment.
Sam Ross artfully assembled this concoction using equal parts of bourbon, Campari, Amaro Nonino, and lemon juice. Initially, he christened it the “Paper Plane,” inspired by a tune that had gained tremendous popularity during that era. In a twist of fate, a misheard phone message from Ross to Maloney rendered the name as “The Paper Airplane,” and thus, this version graced the cocktail menu at The Violet Hour in 2008.

Yet, Sam Ross’s creative spirit continued to evolve the concoction. In a bid to temper the bitterness and introduce a touch of sweetness, he substituted Campari with Aperol. The result was served under the original name “Paper Plane” at Milk & Honey, ultimately spreading its wings to enchant cocktail enthusiasts worldwide.

In essence, the Paper Plane is akin to a whisky sour. Notable ingredients include Amaro Nonino, an Italian liqueur infused with Alpine herbs and orange zest, and Aperol, about which I’ve written previously here.

This cocktail exudes impeccable balance, boasting a delightful interplay of bitterness and acidity, a lush citrus-herbal aroma, and a subtle undercurrent of sweetness.

Recipe according to IBA:

3/4 oz / 22.5 ml bourbon
3/4 oz / 22.5 ml Aperol
3/4 oz / 22.5 ml Amaro Nonino
3/4 oz / 22.5 ml Fresh Lemon Juice

Add all ingredients into a cocktail shaker.
Shake with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Cocktail glass

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