Paper Plane | Cotswold Cocktail School
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Paper Plane

Cotswold Cocktail School - Paper Plane Cocktail Recipe

ABV 19% / 2.2 alcoholic units

Primary spirit: Bourbon

A Brief History of the Paper Plane

The Paper Plane cocktail is a relatively recent creation, emerging in the early 2000s. The credit for its inception goes to Sam Ross, a renowned bartender who crafted this concoction during his tenure at the Violet Hour in Chicago. The name "Paper Plane" is a nod to the song by M.I.A., infusing the cocktail with a dash of modern pop culture.

Despite its contemporary origins, the Paper Plane has swiftly become a classic in its own right, celebrated for its bold flavours and the perfect balance achieved between bitter and sweet components.

Taste and Flavour Profile

The Paper Plane cocktail is a symphony of flavours that coalesce seamlessly:

  • Citrus Zing: A burst of citrusy brightness from fresh lemon juice invigorates the senses.
  • Bitter Complexity: Amaro Nonino and Aperol contribute a balanced bitterness, adding depth and complexity.
  • Whiskey Warmth: The robust character of bourbon brings a rich and warming foundation to the mix.

This cocktail is a thrilling adventure for the taste buds, offering a journey through citrusy highs, bitter lows, and the comforting warmth of whiskey.

Food Pairings

The robust and complex flavors of the Paper Plane cocktail find delightful companionship with a variety of culinary delights:

  • Charcuterie Board: The savoury notes of cured meats and cheeses complement the cocktail's bitter and sweet elements.
  • Spicy Cuisine: Embrace the bold flavours of the Paper Plane with spicy dishes like Cajun or Mexican cuisine for a harmonious contrast.
  • Citrus Desserts: Pair the cocktail with citrus-infused desserts, such as lemon tarts or orange-infused chocolate, to enhance the citrusy notes.

Bar Equipment

  • Cocktail shaker
  • Hawthorne strainer
  • Fine sieve 
  • Coupe glass
  • Jigger


  • 25ml Bourbon
  • 25ml Aperol
  • 25ml Amaro Nonino Quintessentia
  • 25ml freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Garnish: Lemon twist or miniature paper plane!


  • Add ice and all ingredients into the shaker and shake until cooled 
  • Double strain into a chilled coupe glass
  • Garnish with a lemon twist or miniature paper plane

What's the best Bourbon for a Paper Plane?

The best whiskey or bourbon for a Paper Plane cocktail is subjective and depends on personal preferences. However, traditionally, a high-quality bourbon with a balanced and slightly sweet profile is recommended to complement the other ingredients in the cocktail.

A popular choice for the bourbon component in a Paper Plane is Buffalo Trace. Buffalo Trace Bourbon offers a well-rounded flavor profile with notes of vanilla, caramel, and a touch of sweetness, which can harmonize beautifully with the bitterness of Aperol and the complexity of Amaro Nonino.

Other suitable bourbon options include:

  • Evan Williams Black Label: A budget-friendly bourbon with a smooth and approachable taste.
  • Four Roses Small Batch: Known for its mellow and fruity notes, providing an interesting dimension to the cocktail.
  • Woodford Reserve: A premium bourbon with a rich and full-bodied character, adding depth to the cocktail.

Experimenting with different bourbons allows you to tailor the Paper Plane to your taste preferences, whether you prefer a bourbon with more spice, sweetness, or complexity. Ultimately, the best bourbon for your Paper Plane is the one that aligns with your flavor preferences and creates a balanced and enjoyable cocktail.

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