Paper Plane Cocktail Recipe

The Paper Plane is a classic cocktail created by bartender Sam Ross in 2008. It was initially designed for the Purple Hour in Chicago. However, it became widely known when Ross brought it to Milk and Honey in New York. This cocktail is a variation of the Last Word Cocktail, which includes Bourbon, Amaro Nonino, Aperol, and lemon juice.

Paper Plane Cocktail Recipe

Paper Plane Cocktail Recipe

Prep Time 2 minutes
Cook Time 3 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes
Course Drinks
Cuisine American
Servings 1 drink
Calories 125 kcal


  • Cocktail shaker
  • Chilled Nick and Nora glass (or similar)
  • Jigger for measuring
  • Fine mesh strainer


  • 3/4 oz Bourbon e.g., Old Grand-Dad Bonded
  • 3/4 oz Amaro Nonino or a similar light amaro like Montenegro
  • 3/4 oz Aperol
  • 3/4 oz Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice
  • Ice


  • Chill your Nick and Nora glass in the freezer.
  • In a cocktail shaker, add 3/4 oz of Bourbon.
    3/4 oz Bourbon
  • Add 3/4 oz of Amaro Nonino or a suitable light amaro.
    3/4 oz Amaro Nonino
  • Pour in 3/4 oz of Aperol.
    3/4 oz Aperol
  • Squeeze 3/4 oz of fresh lemon juice into the shaker.
    3/4 oz Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice
  • Fill the shaker with ice.
  • Shake the mixture vigorously for about 10 seconds.
  • Double-strain the cocktail into your chilled glass.
  • Garnish with a small paper plane if you like, in homage to its name.



Pro Tips for Success:

  • Use a higher-proof bourbon for a nuttier flavor and extra depth.
  • If you prefer more bitterness, substitute Aperol with Campari.
  • Adjust the ingredient quantities based on the size of your glass while keeping equal parts.
  • Always use freshly squeezed lemon juice for the best flavor.
Keyword Paper Plane Cocktail Recipe

What does a Paper Plane cocktail taste like?

The Paper Plane cocktail is a harmonious blend of the richness of Bourbon, the coolness of lemon, the passionate and slightly bitter aroma of Aperol, and the herbal scent of Amaro Nonino. If you like Whiskey Sours, Paper Plane will be a fun and appealing choice for your palate.

If you enjoy the Paper Plane cocktail, you might also want to try the classic Aperol Spritz recipe for a delightful taste of Italy’s famous aperitif.

What is the difference between a Negroni and a Paper Plane?

While both cocktails are bitter, the Paper Plane is generally sweeter and fruitier due to Aperol and lemon juice, creating a more balanced and modern flavor profile. The Negroni, on the other hand, is a classic cocktail known for its bold bitterness and herbal notes.

AspectNegroniPaper Plane
Base SpiritGinBourbon
Bitter ComponentCampariAperol
Herbal ComponentSweet VermouthAmaro Nonino
Citrus ComponentNoneLemon Juice
Flavor ProfileBitter and HerbalBalanced, Slightly Bitter
Popular GarnishOrange Slice or TwistSmall Paper Plane (Optional)
GlasswareRocks or Old FashionedCocktail or Nick and Nora
Classic or ModernClassicModern Classic

What is a substitute for amaro in Paper Plane cocktail?

Suppose you don’t have Amaro Nonino or prefer an alternative to Amaro in a Paper Plane cocktail. In that case, you can use a different amaro or amaro-like liqueur. Here are a few options:

  • Amaro Montenegro: This is a well-balanced amaro with a slightly sweeter profile than others. It can be a good substitute for Amaro Nonino and is often easier to find.
  • Averna: Averna is a dark, aromatic amaro with citrus, herbs, and spices notes. It has a sweeter taste than Amaro Nonino, so adjust the sweetness in your cocktail accordingly.
  • Cynar: Cynar is an artichoke-based amaro with a distinctive herbal and slightly bitter flavor. It can add complexity to your Paper Plane cocktail.
  • Amaro Lucano: This Amaro has a bittersweet flavor with herbal and citrus notes. It’s known for its balanced taste and can work well as a substitute.
  • Campari: While Campari is not an amaro, it’s an aperitif with a pronounced bitter and citrusy profile. If you enjoy a more bitter Paper Plane, you can use Campari instead of an Amaro. Remember that this will significantly change the flavor profile of the cocktail.

Each Amaro has its unique flavor profile when substituted so that the resulting cocktail may taste slightly different. Adjust the proportions to your taste, and you may need to tweak the sweetness level to balance the flavors correctly.