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  • Writer's pictureThomas D. Williams

Paper Plane

As the weather starts warming I tend to prefer fruitier, sunnier drinks and I back off from belly-warming bourbons and soothing scotches, which are so perfect on those gelid winter nights. That being said, some people will always prefer dark liquors and there are many fine ways to adapt them to the heat of the summer.

One of these is the Paper Plane, a delightful mix of bitter, sour, and herbal notes, just right for a lazy summer evening. This bourbon-based drink starts out as a sour, with equal parts whiskey and fresh lemon juice, but then goes on a junket through the Italian peninsula, picking up a shot of Aperol and another of amaro along the way.

That four-part formula, common to so many great drinks, make this cocktail as easy to prepare as to drink. Aperol is all the rage these days and the nearly infinite variety of amaros allows for lots of experimentation to find your perfect blend.

Speaking of the right amaro, Paper Plane creator Sam Ross of New York City swears by Amaro Nonino, but I have had also good success with Amaro Lucano, Averna, Unicum, and the lovely Sicilian Amara, which picks up the orange notes from the Aperol. One word of caution: the choice of amaro also affects the look of the drink and some wind up conferring a brown, almost muddy look to the drink, which can be somewhat off-putting.



- 1 part bourbon (I suggest Knob Creek)

- 1 part fresh lemon juice

- 1 part Aperol

- 1 part amaro of choice


Pour the four main ingredients over ice into a cocktail shaker. Shake vigorously for at least 20 seconds and immediately strain into a coupe.

Garnish with lemon peel (small paper plane is optional!).


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