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From farm to glass, Kingfisher taps North Carolina bounty

This artisan cocktail bar takes crafting drinks to a whole new level

Durham, N.C.-based ceramic artist Michelle Vanderwalker cofounded Kingfisher with her husband Sean Umstead this month as a seasonal cocktail bar that reflects the local landscape.

Inspired by North Carolina’s farms, the cocktails are tailored to both the weather and the available local ingredients.

Located in downtown Durham adjacent to The Durham Hotel, Kingfisher is named for the birds who reside along the banks of North Carolina’s rivers.

Vanderwalker and Umstead hope to create community with this new cocktail bar, according to press materials. This will include bringing guest bartenders and “farm tenders,” representing the farms that produce the fruits and vegetable, to connect directly with guests.

Vanderwalker, who designed the 60-seat venue, makes the ceramics,  ranging from pitchers to glasses and some nonfunctional pieces like jewelry and tiles. These tiles are featured prominently in the restaurant design as they line the bar and every vessel is her own creation, available for sale as well.

She’s not the only artisan who has worked on the space, she tapped into her creative network to get a custom-made reclaimed wood bar and leather-bound menus and Kingfisher will host rotating gallery installations by local artists.

See some of the vessels and local drinks.

Contact Holly Petre at [email protected]

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