Make this super easy and enjoyable paper plane cocktail

The paper plane cocktail is a bartender staple: painless to make, highly crushable, and it's got a pretty fly origin story. Give this recipe from Piccolo Caffe a go.


Paper plane cocktail at Toronto's Piccolo Caffe

Serves 1

Preparation time 5 minutes

The paper plane cocktail is such a bar menu staple that one would think it's been around for ages. But this cocktail ain't no classic like the 80s-baby espresso martini or the post-Prohibition paloma. Nope, the paper plane cocktail arrived much later, like in-the-2000s later.

Let's take it back a few, shall we? Picture this: It’s 2007, M.I.A.’s “Paper Planes” comes on your iPod Nano. You throw some finger guns in the air. You’re going to ask your crush for their BBM pin later. You’re unstoppable. The energy from that chart-topper was a force. And in 2008, New York City bartender Sam Ross was so inspired by the song that he named his new cocktail creation after it for the opening of The Violet Hour bar in Chicago, where the tipple took off.

The paper plane cocktail was born (yes, it’s a Gen Z, we were surprised too). At the time, Ross would garnish the equal parts bourbon, Amaro Nonino, Aperol and lemon juice cocktail with a miniature paper plane. But, who has time for that these days? At most bars, like Toronto's Piccolo Caffe, you'll see this tipple topped with a simple, no-fuss lemon rind for some added freshness.

Amaro Nonino liqueur brings notes of orange, honey and vanilla, as well as some bitterness ('Amaro’ means ‘bitter’ in Italian) to the strong-yet-sweet, Kentucky's finest bourbon. Don’t confuse shaking vigorously with shaking for a long time — you want your drink to be cold, not watered-down.

Once you've had one, you'll see why the paper plane cocktail has been taking people's money ever since it landed.


  • 1 oz Wild Turkey Bourbon (can use any bourbon or whisky)
  • 1 oz Aperol
  • 1 oz Amaro Nonino
  • 1 oz lemon juice


  1. Put all ingredients into a shaker with ice, shake vigorously.
  2. Use a strainer and pour the contents into a coupe glass.
  3. Express lemon rind into the glass and use it as a garnish.