Recipe: Here’s Why Bartenders Like Micaela Piccolo Love the Paper Plane


Sick of your usual call drink? Try something new. In this series, we’re asking the city’s bartenders to name their current drinks of choice. Check out our Good Call archives for another round.

Today’s call comes by way of Micaela Piccolo, head bartender at Distilled (211 West Broadway; 212-601-9514).

Though it’s easy for people to trust doctors and dentists when it comes to personal hygiene, allowing a bartender to explore your personal taste can be a bit more challenging. But, says bartender Micaela Piccolo, if you want to find the right drink for you, it’s imperative that you let go of your inhibitions and trust what their bartender has to say. “Don’t be afraid to have a conversation,” she says. “If [your bartender is] good, they’ll know what they’re talking about. Let them steer you in the right direction…Don’t order a cocktail because you think it sounds good. I’m going to know you’re not going to like it.”

And sometimes that conversation really benefits the bartender: Piccolo’s customers helped her find her favorite drink, the paper plane. “To be honest, when I first fell in love with spirits, I was a gin girl,” she says. “But, slowly and steadily, I made my way through every other spirit on my back bar and realized that there were too many great liquors to choose from. I eventually found an irreplaceable love for Scotch which, lead me to explore the whiskey family extensively. I began to really educate myself on craft cocktails that were whiskey-based, and that is when I found the ‘Paper Plane.’ I remember the first time I made the drink for a guest. They loved it so much I had to make three more for their friends. I even think I made some extra for myself to taste. I sipped and thought, ‘Holy crap, this is delicious.'”

One of the best parts about the ‘Paper Plane’ — a drink created by fellow New York bartender Sam Ross, who named it after a “badass song” by M.I.A. — is its flexibility. “It’s a changeable drink…it’s all booze,” says Piccolo. Bartenders can substitute Campari or another amaro for Aperol; the proportions will always be the same. “When I experienced my first ‘Paper Plane,’ I was swept away by the flavors playing the most savory melody on my palate,” says Piccolo. “Having merged two of my favorite worlds, one of whiskey and the other of aperitifs, I find myself ordering this drink more often than others. If you’re a bourbon drinker, but happen to be looking for something a bit more invigorating and fresh, then this is the perfect cocktail for you.”

Outside of grabbing a ‘Paper Plane’ at her home base, Piccolo has a few locations close by to land her favorite drink. “The Pegu Club is probably my favorite place to order this puppy,” she says. “I am also lucky enough to work around the corner from two fantastic bars, Macao Trading Co. and Ward III. Both bars execute the drink flawlessly.”

For those that prefer mixing cocktails at home, the recipe for the ‘Paper Plane’ and Piccolo’s second favorite drink, the daiquiri, are below.

Paper Plane

3/4 ounce Bourbon (the original called for Buffalo Trace)
3/4 ounce Amaro Nonino
3/4 ounce Aperol
3/4 ounce Fresh Lemon Juice

Shake with ice, strain, and serve up.

Classic Daiquiri

2 ounces white rum
1 ounce fresh lime juice
3/4 ounce simple syrup

Shake with ice, strain, and serve up with a lime wedge.