Going 10 Rounds with Top Bartender Sean Umstead
After all these years bartending and creating drinks, do you still enjoy going out to bars? “I love going out to bars. It revitalizes my passion and teaches me new things. I really enjoy looking at how other operators set up, design their space, and execute service. Bars are such a puzzle and it’s awesome to watch when it all clicks together.”
Why Kingfisher’s Personal Touch Sets It Apart From Other Craft Bars
“I think people like that feeling of a personal touch, that someone took the time to really think about the guest experience. I like providing a little bit of a surprise and delight for people when they discover all the different details everywhere,” says Michelle Vanderwalker.
Here’s Your First Look At Kingfisher, Durham’s Newest Cocktail Bar
"After a year of work, Kingfisher is opening Wednesday in downtown Durham. The new cocktail bar from husband and wife Sean Umstead and Michelle Vanderwalker has transformed the basement of an old office building on Chapel Hill Street, into a lounge where one can drink the seasons."
Beyond the Cocktail Glass
"But in a culture that’s largely amnesic about the old arts of clay, a new vessel could provide an extra layer of insight—a tangible way to slow down and see the thing in front of us with, potentially, more clarity. “[It] could make people more attentive to the whole experience,” Vanderwalker suggests. “They might not even be aware of it.”"
How To Love Green Peppers
"At Kingfisher, a cocktail lounge opening this winter in Durham N.C., owner Sean Umstead will make local produce the star of his drinks. His emerald-hued Oaxacan Bell begins with a green-pepper syrup that provides a backbone for the cocktail and draws out the vegetal notes of mezcal. The more bite, the better!"
Your Next Favorite Bar
“That means lots of pickling and preserving and a strawberry daiquiri you’ll actually want to drink.”
Best Weekend Getaways Near Atlanta
"Best Downtown: Durham, NC…Kingfisher, an old office basement transformed into a new subterranean sipping escape."
At The Table With Sean Umstead, Co-Founder of Kingfisher
“Biggest culinary/bartender inspiration? Why? Luke Whearty. He opened the well-known cocktail bar in Singapore, Operation Dagger, and most recently opened Byrdi Bar in Australia. Whearty pushes the concept of what a cocktail should be, and is uniquely inspired by the people he is around and the places he’s been.”
Five Drinks That Redefine “Beach Cocktail”
“One of my most commonly used techniques for coming up with cocktails is envisioning the scene [that] the drink would be ideal to drink in,” says Umstead. In this case, he says it’s a mint julep on the porch of a beach house, “listening to the waves and smelling that sea air.”
9 Best Sprits For Spiked Apple Cider
"For a cold-weather apple cocktail that veers away from the spiked-cider norms, try using aquavit, a classic Scandinavian herbal liqueur, as your cider spirit. According to owner/head bartender Sean Ulmstead of Kingfisher in Durham, North Carolina,”
Durham’s Farm-Inspired Cocktail Bar Is Finally Open
"The concept is a result of the duo’s bartender and industry experience, coupled with Vanderwalker’s artist background. “It’s a collection of two people’s passions combined into one unified space,” says Umstead. Everything is intentional, but without trying too hard.."