You Can Actually Drink a Cardboard Plane Cocktail at a BBQ If You Know How To Make It

You Can Actually Drink a Cardboard Plane Cocktail at a BBQ If You Know How To Make It
Courtesy of Food & Wine

In one hand, you will have a spatula, and in the other, this drink.

It's practically impossible not to drink sunshine cocktails over the Fourth of July weekend.

On those days when you're unsure whether to start drinking, imagine grilling meat in the backyard, the direct sun still uncomfortable late in the afternoon, and you decide you don't care. 

There are times when you are faced with conflicting instincts: It's too hot for whiskey, but you kinda want whiskey. The temperature won't allow sweetness, but you still want something refreshing and summery. Your goal is to create a juicy effect, but you do not want to drink a lot of juice. How can you achieve this?

As an answer, we humbly submit the Cardboard Plane. Usually, this space is reserved for classics, new and old, and there are plenty that would work here, like the Whiskey Smash, the Kentucky Buck, the New York Sour, etc., but I have to say that this original cocktail, created a few summers ago at San Diego's The Lion's Share, is one of the best I've ever made. When you work backward from a vibe, you end up with this drink: we chose orange and grapefruit bourbon because of its natural affinity for citrus.

In this case, being "juicy" means embracing the inherent character of some of our favorite liqueurs instead of adding juice, which can be too sweet and flabby. In order to achieve an irrepressible freshness and sweetness, we started with Cointreau, one of the best orange liqueurs ever made. Amaro Meletti is one of the floralest Italian amari due to its perfumed, grapefruit-like bitterness and its juicy quality. These are the ingredients to make a summer cocktail reminiscent of a tart, whiskey-flavored Starburst, but made with a mild bourbon, oak and structure, lemon to balance the sweetness, and grapefruit to add a touch of grapefruit.

As for the name, we immediately recognized it as the child of Sam Ross's incredible Paper Plane after the recipe was complete. In contrast to its predecessor, it has more citrus where the other would have herb complexity, while still remaining bitter and tart. The Cardboard Plane is a bit clunkier than the Paper Plane because it has five ingredients, so we named it after that expression. You might not be able to fly a cardboard airplane for very long, but you might enjoy flying a few around the backyard this weekend if you feel so inclined.

Cardboard Plane

  • 1 oz. bourbon
  • 0.75 oz. Cointreau
  • 0.5 oz. Amaro Meletti
  • 0.75 oz. lemon juice
  • 0.5 oz. grapefruit juice

A cocktail tin should be filled with the following ingredients and shaken hard over ice. Strain into a rocks glass and garnish with a grapefruit peel.


Courtesy of Bon Appetit

Cointreau is 40 percent alcohol and Amaro Meletti is 32, so this cocktail will still pack a punch even though it's so refreshing. If you would like to serve this cocktail with an 80 proof whiskey, I would recommend Four Roses Yellow Label, Evan Williams, Jim Beam, Ancient Age, or Benchmark. As long as the bourbon is under 90 proof, I wouldn't worry too much about it.

Cointreau is the best orange liqueur around. I would use Combier here, since I haven't tried it in this application, but it is also very good. But stick to only one of them. It's always important to have high-quality triple-sec, but that's especially true here since your weakest link is what makes you a failure.

One of the best amari available is Meletti, which has a juicy profile, floral balance, and bitter balance. Other amari may work better or worse, depending on the bottling. If you can't find Meletti, you can try CioCiaro, Montenegro, or Nonino amaro. You won't get a perfect cocktail, but you'll get an absolutely delicious drink.

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