The Paper Plane flew into my life last weekend. I have mentioned my cousin Will before, he sent me this drink. It is absolutely phenomenal. The Paper Plane cocktail is based on a much older cocktail called the Last Word. The Last Word is a relatively famous cocktail in the mixology circles and is used as a template frequently, mainly because it is a balanced pour. There many cocktails riffed from the last word out there, the paper plane is one of the best.
The Paper Plane, I understand was created by an Australian Bartender in the early 2000’s, and is an entirely different set of ingredients but riffed from the same portions. A balanced pour is when all the ingredients are in exactly the same proportions. This balance relies completely on the flavors in the mix for perfection, removing the ability to change proportions. In this case four ingredients all equally portioned at 3/4 ounce each.
For a garnish make a tiny paper plane and skewer it on top. While a bit tedious in execution its really makes this a high end cocktail, and so fun.
Bourbon. Aperol. Montenegro. Lemon.
For a garnish make a tiny paper plane and skewer it on top. While a bit tedious in execution its really makes this a high end cocktail.
- 3/4 ounce Amaro Montenegro
- 3/4 ounce Bourbon
- 3/4 ounce Lemon
- 3/4 ounce Aperol
Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker.
Shake over ice.
Strain into a small cocktail glass.
Garnish with a small paper plane on a skewer.
Creating Great Craft Cocktails
Over the years I have made a large number of cocktails, but it was not until about the last year I focused on making great ones. Previously, I made the usual drinks. Like a blender full of frozen strawberries, a bunch of rum, lime juice and sugar, for a strawberry daiquiri sort of thing. Around a 2018 I began seriously studying cocktails in earnest. Because of this deeper dedication the quality of my cocktails improved to craft mixologist level.
There were three things that helped the most, and two of them were probably not surprising. The two that are simply logical are high quality ingredients and knowledge of technique. The final element was a study in depth of cocktail history. I found I needed a base of knowledge to guide me and my ability to make amazing cocktails others will like.
The Similarity Between Cocktails and Cuisine
Creating an excellent meal is similar to creating an excellent cocktail. In contrast though cocktails are faster and much less forgiving. Rarely do cocktails have more than 6 ingredients. Also as rarely, they are not prepared over a long period of time usually less than 2 minutes. Similar to cuisine, people like what they like. If someone hates lobster, no mater how well you prepare it, its still lobster. I have found the same goes for alcohol, gin haters can taste gin, and will hate it.
Cocktails, like cuisine, are about balance. Balance in food comes from 6 profiles, which are, sweet, sour, spicy salty, bitter, and unmami. Cocktails balance on only four, those are sweet, sour, boozy and dilution. Therefore by paying attention to the balance it is far easier to make a great cocktail.
Three Aspects of a Great Cocktail
High Quality Ingredients
High quality is harder in cocktails than one might expect, the non alcoholic ingredients have shelf lives, and take effort. The alcoholic ingredients can be very expensive and, at times of a limited usefulness. Making syrups, and always having fresh fruit on hand is important. As is having the proper liquor. But if you want something like a Corpse Revivier #2, possibly one of the most balanced and perfectly made cocktails, you will need Lilet, but how often will you use it? In a vesper maybe,or a Lilet cocktail, but it’s not a common ingredient. High quality is hard in cocktails. It took me over a year to build my bar, which is currently well north of 100 different bottles. I really had to commit. Not everyone has to go to this level, but having expensive straggler bottles is a side effect.
I came to realize that professional mixologists have a huge leg up on me. They mix many more drinks than I ever will. To learn technique I had to make, and most times drink a bunch of cocktails. Also I had to buy a full kit of real bar stuff. Things like shakers, mixing glasses, bitters, ice cube trays, its a long list. But it helped.
Finally, I needed to research the history, which is important for me. I have built a little society of friends who are “cocktail historians” like me, and it really helps. I also have quite a few historical books I draw upon. Knowing what something is, and where it came from is powerful. Especially in knowing how to make it, and how to develop a wholly new cocktail.
So please join me on my journey, with whatever effort you want to put in. I will be doing, and drinking, the research, and trying new things. So we can all enjoy a cocktail together.
Try some of our other amazing cocktails.