Sean Umstead

Sean Umstead is one of the creative forces behind Kingfisher – his first solo venture with Michelle Vanderwalker of Vanderwalker Design. Their seasonal cocktail bar in Durham, NC draws inspiration from North Carolina’s farms, offering a rare, year-long view into each season through innovative ground-to-glass cocktails. Recognized as one of North Carolina’s most imaginative bar experts, Umstead’s work has been featured in Food & Wine, Garden & Gun, EATER, The Wall Street Journal, Wine Enthusiast, and Punch. This year, Umstead’s Kingfisher was recognized as one of the “10 Best New Cocktail Bars of 2019” by Vine Pair, and Umstead was a featured mixologist in the “Imbibe 75” of 2020.

Umstead has been steeped in North Carolina’s hospitality culture, serving on the area’s most dynamic food and beverage teams -- from the 5-star Herons at The Umstead Hotel and Spa, to The Counting House in the 21c Museum Hotel and St. Roch Fine Oysters + Bar.

Umstead’s stellar reputation extends beyond the Triangle as well. In 2018, he won the regional competition for Copper & Kings’ “Mixt8pe Cocktail Competition” with his Carrot & Fennel-infused Sazerac. Umstead has guest bartended at bars across the East Coast – from The Grand Army in Brooklyn to Edmund’s Oast in Charleston.

North Carolina's award-winning Chef Ashley Christensen said it best in the James Beard Foundation’s “Beard Bites. “…Umstead is making some of the most creative cocktails in the area…”