Generally when you walk into a cocktail bar that has a wall virtually covered in top shelf alcohol, you know you’re in the right spot.
Paper Plane is no except to this rule. The small, but beautifully designed space invites patrons to sit back and relax and let the bartender take care of your every need. While the establishment goes to great lengths to prepare a unique cocktail list, where their strength truly lies is on the far left of the wall. There, small oak barrels are vessels of alchemy, transforming concoctions of spirits, aperitifs and botanicals into barrel-aged delights.
The hallmark of barrel-aged cocktails is their mellowness. Three months in a barrel takes the edge off even the strongest whiskey. This allows the bartenders the ability to play with different flavours and aromas, bringing out some truly creative barrel-aged cocktails.
In addition to constant experimentation within the barrels, the bar is regularly going through a rotation of new and exciting drinks. Currently on their 10th rotation, drinks like the Yippie Ki Yay Motherf**ker (Sweet Potato, Barbados Rum, Cachaça, Trinidad Overproof Rum, Dry Curaçao, Marshmallow Orgeat, Lime) or the Bad Santa (Hot Milk Punch with Barbados Rum, Trinidad Overproof Rum, Bavaria Arrack, Pineapple Juice, Lemon Juice, Almond Milk, 8 Spices, Coconut Water, Coconut Oil) showcase just how totally outside the box these bartenders are.
There is a small selection of food as well, designed to compliment the unique flavours of whatever is being poured at the bar.
Owners Dan Phan and Johnny Wang, also own craft beer haven Original Gravity Public House next door, but for Paper Plane they wanted to make a craft cocktail bar that was exciting and accessible to the masses, and they’ve achieved that.
It’s a wonderfully sophisticated, but laid back environment that stands out from the rest of the establishments nearby. San Jose is lucky to have such a venue.