Paper Plane, a collaboration between Victory Sandwich Bar and Paul Calvert, opened about two months ago, and is already, easily, one of the best cocktail bars in Atlanta. This is to be expected, with Paul Calvert at the helm of the wine and cocktail program. He’s a bit of an icon in Atlanta’s cocktail scene, having shared his talents at such places as Soundtable and Pura Vida in the past. Point is: the guy has a following, and for good reason.
You enter Paper Plane through an unmarked door in an alleyway. Inside, it’s small and intimate. It’s got sort of a mid-century meets industrial vibe — with wood-paneled walls and leather booths — plus some perfectly executed food and drinks.
When I first pored over the menu, my interest was piqued by at least eight of the 11 offerings on the menu. The first that caught my eye was the Trouble in Paradise. It is a mezcal cocktail, with Fidencio Classico Mezcal, Breckenridge bitters, lime and white cacao. This… this is my sort of drink. While it has very much the distinct taste one would expect in a mezcal-based drink, the flavors are so perfectly paired that each ingredient melds right into the other. The mezcal is a perfect match with the herbal aromatics and slight sweetness of the bitters and cacao; and all the flavors seem to compliment the smokiness of the mezcal, letting it shine, while just slightly tempering any hints of harshness. The subtle nuances of this drink could be discussed, at length, over three or four more drinks.
Deciding to change gears a bit, the Blue Jay had me interested with the first ingredient: Fernet-Branca syrup. Fernet can be tricky, as in the hands of an inexperienced bartender it can make cocktails taste closer to bitter Listerine than a well-balanced drink. But that wasn’t the case here. I tend to shy away from cocktails in which beer is an ingredient, but the Blue Jay was fantastic. It was a uniquely flavored combination of Fernet-Branca syrup, Amaro CioCiaro, lemon, Angostura bitters and Sierra Nevada Ruthless Rye. The drink certainly leans toward the herbal side, with the rye ale giving it a bit of a peppery kick. While I’d enjoy this cocktail year round, it seems perfect for easing into the warmer months.
All in all: good stuff. If you live in Atlanta, or find yourself here, go forth and pay Paper Plane a visit.
340 Church St
Decatur, GA 30033
Photo: Sarah Dodge