Classic Cocktail Afternoons (Recap)

Sam Ross

Sam started off as a bartender at Melbourne’s cocktail bar Ginger, which he opened with his mother and sister. After three years, he left for New York and joined Sasha Petraske’s growing bar group, helping to start Little Branch and the East Side Company Bar. At the same time, he was pulling shifts at Audrey Saunders’ legendary establishment Pegu Club as well.


Even after moving over to Milk & Honey, Ross managed to create drinks programs at Comme Ça in Los Angeles and Las Vegas, while also assisting with the launch of Noble Experiment in San Diego. And his efforts have been recognized with a number of Tales of the Cocktail Spirited Award nominations and the 2011 prize for American Bartender of the Year.

He now runs Attaboy in the original Milk & Honey location with business partner Mickey McIlroy and they are currently working on a new project in Nashville Tennessee. Other notable cocktails created by Ross: Penicillin, Gordon’s Breakfast, Rumble

Paper Plane

.75oz Bourbon

.75oz Aperol

.75oz Amaro Nonino

.75oz lemon juice

shake/strain/coupe/lemon zest

paper plane


The term “modern classic” can be applied to this drink.

It has been widely dispersed throughout cocktail books, online publications, and the menus of bars not only around the world but also in bars less than two city blocks away from its home bar.

A popular story claims this cocktail was named after the M.I.A song of the same name. The recipe’s creator – Sam Ross – hasn’t verified the tale directly, but a time-sensitive google search bears it out. Only one recipe of this drink is found in google before 2009; that recipe is dated “Summer 2008”, a few months after the now-famous song hit mainstream radio.

The original cocktail was designed for Chicago’s The Violet Hour and contained Campari instead of the now commonly used Aperol. Amaro Nonino is an expensive and relatively new member of the amaro family. It has an herbal palate not unlike Chartreuse, finished with a sweet body and a hint of bitterness (other sweet and semi-bitter amaros will do fine).