Durham cocktail bar Kingfisher will highlight NC fruits and vegetables

Husband and wife Sean Umstead and Michelle Vanderwalker will open the Kingfisher cocktail bar in downtown Durham in 2018.Robert K. Oliver

When Sean Umstead is asked about his go-to cocktail, the answer is both unexpected and revealing.

“It’s probably a strawberry daiquiri,” said Umstead, adding a qualifier, “Made right.”

In 2018, an era known for its innovative cocktail culture, that may be a surprising answer, but it may tell you everything you need to know about Kingfisher. That’s the new cocktail bar Umstead is opening with his wife, Michelle Vanderwalker, at 321 E. Chapel Hill St., next to The Durham hotel in downtown. It is expected to open later this year.

A strawberry daiquiri “made right” means tart and dry, some sweetness from the rum, some lime juice and is an entire white sand world away from the saccharine sweet frozen concoction usually thought of today.

It is the longtime cocktail dream of Umstead, who grew up in Cary and moved back to North Carolina from New York City in 2013, serving as the assistant manager at Herons at the Umstead Hotel in Cary and then launching the bar program at The Counting House when it opened at 21c Museum Hotel in Durham.

He currently is the general manager of St. Roch Oyster Bar in downtown Raleigh, which opened in May 2017.

Read the full story here.

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