Paper Plane Cocktail

National Aviation Day

Your cocktail calendar entry for: August
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The Paper Plane cocktail is Drink of the Day for National Aviation Day.  August 19 you see, is both Orville Wright’s birthday and National Aviation Day.  The latter followed from it being Orville’s birthday.  We first told the story of the Wright brothers in introducing a classic, the Aviation Cocktail.  Today’s Drink of the Day, the Paper Plane, follows in its footsteps.  It qualifies as a modern classic that has become popular around the world.

The Paper Plane recipe was invented by the venerable Sam Ross, who also devised the Sunflower.  It’s a variation on the Last Word, a classic cocktail that forms the basis for any number of offspring.  Like the Last Word, the Paper Plane recipe uses four ingredients in equal proportions.

The Paper Plane is bittersweet, with the bourbon and lemon juice notable yet made all the more complex by the amaros that were invited to the party.  Imagine, if you will, a whiskey sour with a few more layers of flavor.

Mr. Ross called for very specific ingredients in the Paper Plane, but there is a bit of flexibility.  If you’re out of Amaro Nonino you can try others, but try to avoid any too strongly flavored or bitter.  Montenegro would be a far better choice than something like Cynar.  Likewise, if you’re out of the gently-flavored Aperol, you could substitute Campari, but it does add a more notably bitter element.


Paper Plane cocktail

Paper Plane

Invented by Sam Ross during his days at Milk & Honey in New York, the Paper Plane is a variation on the classic Last Word - in other words a four equal parts recipe, served up.
5 from 1 vote


  • Nick and Nora or coupe glass


  • ¾ oz Bourbon
  • ¾ oz Aperol
  • ¾ oz Amaro Nonino If you're out of Nonino you can substitue another amaro, but try to use one on the lighter side.
  • ¾ oz Fresh lemon juice
  • Garnish: lemon twist


  • Add all ingredients to your trusty cocktail shaker.
  • Add ice and shake until frosty cold.
  • Strain into pre-chilled cocktail glass.
  • Garnish with lemon twist. If you're feeling adventurous cut a slit in the mid portion, fold the twist into a wing shape and perch on the edge of the glass.
  • Use piece of paper to fold an airplane and toss. Alternatively, hold out arms in wing formation and run about.
  • Drink.
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