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New College Hill bar features real airplane seats, staff members in pilot uniforms

A new bar in Wichita’s Clifton Square has just been cleared for takeoff.

Derek Sorrells, who also owns Papa’s General Store in Clifton Square, quietly opened his new aviation-themed Flight 1868 whiskey bar and cocktail lounge in late March but wanted to keep it quiet until he was fully staffed and employees had a little practice in.

But now, he said, he’s ready for Wichita to experience his unique bar, which has taken over the two-story white house on the east side of Clifton Square that was previously home to The Teahouse.

The new bar Flight 1868 has taken over the Clifton Square building that was once home to The Teahouse. Denise Neil/The Wichita Eagle
The new bar Flight 1868 has taken over the Clifton Square building that was once home to The Teahouse. Denise Neil/The Wichita Eagle

“We wanted to create a neighborhood place where people could gather and have an adult beverage, and Clifton Square is an amazing little place,” Sorrells said. “We thought, ‘What better place to put something like that?’”

The bar, which was named for the year that Wichita got its start as a trading post, also is an ode to the city’s rich aviation history. Sorrells — whose mother, Mary Lou Maddox, was a flight attendant for Western Airlines and American Airlines in the early 1960s — has filled the indoor space with lots of fun aviation touches.

Staff members at Flight 1868 wear pilot uniforms. Denise Neil/The Wichita Eagle
Staff members at Flight 1868 wear pilot uniforms. Denise Neil/The Wichita Eagle

The front of the bar, for example, has a little nook that is fitted with brand-new American Airlines airplane seats Sorrells bought off of eBay. Customers clamor for those seats — which are business class sized and have tables set up in front of them.

He also invested in a Vestaboard — a modern version of the old-fashioned flip boards that used to announce flights in airports. This one can be programmed to share messages with customers, including birthday and anniversary wishes or the latest sports scores.

Small airplane models decorate the space, and Sorrells has his staff wearing pilot uniforms. The manager on duty is the captain, and staffers are first officers and navigators.

Sorrells also ordered some unique glassware in which to serve his drinks. One is shaped like a milk carton. One is a diamond. One is a bird cage. One is a globe.

Many of the cocktails at Flight 1868 come in glasses with fun shapes, like this globe. There’s also a milk carton, a diamond and a bird cage. Courtesy photo
Many of the cocktails at Flight 1868 come in glasses with fun shapes, like this globe. There’s also a milk carton, a diamond and a bird cage. Courtesy photo

“We wanted to do some drinks that were a little bit different,” Sorrels said.

The bar has an extensive menu that lists craft cocktails — the “Power Nap” espresso martini has been particularly popular so far — and Flight 1868 also serves wine by the bottle or glass, beer, bourbon, whiskey, scotch, cognac and tequila. Customers also can get flights of one-ounce whiskey pours.

The business also serves four charcuterie boards. One is made with meats and cheeses, and one has a breakfast theme for those who visit during brunch hours on Saturday and Sunday mornings. It also serves two dessert boards: one that’s overflowing with chocolate and one with a S’mores theme.

The new Clifton Square bar 1868 serves four different charcuterie boards, one with a chocolate theme. Courtesy photo
The new Clifton Square bar 1868 serves four different charcuterie boards, one with a chocolate theme. Courtesy photo

“We realize we are not a destination for dinner,” Sorrels said. “We are a before-dinner or an after-dinner stopping point, where you can have a drink, have a little snack and enjoy yourself.”

The bar also offers a menu of cigars, which customers will be able to enjoy on a large and comfortable Douglas-facing patio when the weather gets warmer. Sorrells said he hoped to have the patio open this weekend.

Hours for the bar are 4 to 11 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays; 3 p.m. to midnight Fridays; 10:30 a.m. to midnight Saturdays; and 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sundays.

Take a peek at the craft cocktail and food menu below. To see the full menu, visit flight1868.com

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