Looking for a perfectly balanced cocktail recipe that’s easy to make yet packs a flavorful punch? Meet the Paper Plane Cocktail – an approachable modern classic blending bourbon, Aperol, amaro, and lemon juice.

Looking for a new favorite cocktail?

This Paper Plane Cocktail recipe is like a combination of an Aperol spritz and a classic whiskey sour. It’s a delicious cocktail with the perfect balance of sweet, sour, and bitter flavors. 

With simple cocktail ingredients and quick prep, the Paper Plane Cocktail is the perfect choice for anyone looking to level up their happy hours. This cocktail will have you singing your favorite M.I.A. song all day long. 

Watch 🎥 How to Make a Paper Plane Drink

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What Is a Paper Plane Cocktail?

The Paper Plane Cocktail was created in 2008 by award-winning bartender and co-owner of Attaboy and Diamond Reef in New York City, Sam Ross. This drink is a modern classic cocktail with a delicate balance of flavors from the combination of bourbon, amaro nonino, Aperol, and fresh lemon juice. If you want a break from heavier bourbon cocktails, you’ll love this classic drink. 

What you’ll love about this recipe:

  • BALANCED – The Paper Plane cocktail mixes bourbon or gin with Aperol, Amaro Nonino Quintessentia, and fresh lemon juice for a tasty combo of sweet and bitter flavors. It’s perfect for folks who like their drinks to have a little bit of everything!
  • VIBRANT – Its vibrant orange hue and refreshing citrus taste make it a hit for any occasion, whether at home or out with friends.

What You Need to Make a Paper Plane Cocktail

  • Bourbon or gin – provides the main alcoholic base for the drink, giving it its characteristic warmth and depth of flavor. You can choose between bourbon, known for its rich and sweet notes, or gin, which adds a botanical twist.
  • Aperol – brings a sweet and slightly bitter orange flavor to the cocktail. Adds brightness and balance.
  • Amaro Nonino Quintessentia – this herbal liqueur adds complexity and depth to the cocktail with its blend of botanicals and spices. Adds a subtle bitterness and herbal notes.
  • Fresh Lemon Juice – adds a refreshing zing and helps to brighten the flavors of the drink.
  • Ice Cubes

How to Make a Paper Plane Cocktail

  • Fill a cocktail shaker with ice.
  • Add all the ingredients to the cocktail shaker and shake until chilled.
  • Strain into a coupe glass and garnish with a paper plane.

Expert Recipe Tips

  • Double Strain for Smoothness: To achieve a silky-smooth texture, double strain your cocktail after shaking. This helps remove any ice shards or pulp, resulting in a velvety consistency that enhances the drinking experience.
  • Garnish: Elevate your Paper Plane presentation by garnishing it with a lemon twist. Not only does it add a pop of color and freshness, but it also releases aromatic oils that complement the cocktail’s flavors.
  • Experiment with Variations: Don’t be afraid to get creative and experiment with different bourbons, amaros, and citrus juices to put your own spin on the classic recipe. Some options include swapping the bourbon for rye whiskey or the amaro nonino for a different amaro, such as amaro Montenegro or amaro Averna.

How to serve this cocktail

Strain your cocktail into a coupe glass and sip as an aperitif or a pre-dinner drink to open your palate.

Soar through the clouds with the Paper Plane Cocktail! With refreshing, balanced flavors and simple steps, this cocktail is easier to make than a paper airplane. If you try this recipe, please rate the recipe card and leave a comment down below to help out the next reader! 

Paper Plane Cocktail Recipe

This Paper Plane cocktail recipe combines bourbon, Aperol, amaro, and lemon juice for a spirit-forward yet refreshingly balanced modern classic drink.
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Cocktail Recipes
Author: Kita
5 minutes
Serves: 1


  • cocktail shaker
  • Strainer
  • Coupe Glass


  • 1 oz bourbon or gin
  • 1 oz Aperol
  • 1 oz Amaro Nonino
  • 1 oz Lemon Juice
  • Ice


  • Fill a cocktail shaker with ice.
  • Add all the ingredients to the cocktail shaker and shake until chilled.
  • Strain into a coupe glass and garnish with a paper plane.


YouTube video


Serving: 1g | Calories: 246kcal | Carbohydrates: 20g | Protein: 0.2g | Fat: 0.3g | Saturated Fat: 0.1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 0.02g | Sodium: 5mg | Potassium: 47mg | Fiber: 0.1g | Sugar: 19g | Vitamin A: 2IU | Vitamin C: 11mg | Calcium: 2mg | Iron: 0.1mg

Nutritional informations provided as a courtesy and is only an approximatation. Values will changes based on ingredients used.

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Recipe FAQs

The Paper Plane cocktail is versatile and suitable for a variety of occasions. Whether you’re hosting a cocktail party, enjoying happy hour with friends, or simply unwinding after a long day, the Paper Plane is the perfect choice for any cocktail enthusiast looking to elevate their drinking experience.

The bright, citrusy flavors of the Paper Plane cocktail pair well with a range of dishes, including light appetizers, seafood, and citrus-infused desserts. Consider serving it alongside grilled shrimp skewers, citrus salad, or lemon tart.

The Paper Plane cocktail has a taste that’s both sweet and tangy. It’s made with bourbon, Aperol, amaro, and fresh lemon juice, giving it a nice balance of flavors. The bourbon adds richness, Aperol brings a hint of orange sweetness, amaro adds depth, and lemon juice adds a refreshing citrus kick. Together, they create a drink that’s vibrant and delicious, perfect for any occasion.

5 from 1 vote (1 rating without comment)

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