Skip to main content

Naming Cocktails, Unusual Ingredients, and the South with Kingfisher’s Sean Umstead

Sean Umstead Kingfisher
Robert K. Oliver

Which new bourbon are we pumped about? What does it take to be a master journeyman? Where are we excited to travel to next? Each week, The Manual Podcast invites an expert, artisan, or craftsman for a roundtable discussion on what’s new, exciting, and unique in their trade.

For this week’s episode of The Manual Podcast, Sam and Greg sit down with Sean Umstead, the owner of the  Durham, North Carolina cocktail bar Kingfisher.

Since opening in July 2019, Kingfisher has received wide acclaim for its innovative cocktail program, which utilizes locally sourced ingredients to help build the cocktail list. Before digging into the cocktails, though, Greg gets Umstead to talk about how Kingfisher came to be — what it took to get to the point where he (and his wife/business partner) wanted to open their own space.

After explaining how Kingfisher came to be, Umstead digs into the cocktails themselves, from the very local nature of the drinks — Umstead works with local farmers to supply seasonal ingredients — to ingredients you may have seen in drinks before like fennel and less classic ingredients like black radish (don’t worry, he explains how it works).

Kingfisher Cocktail

Next, Umstead explains the process of creating and naming drinks. Does he go more traditional? Silly? A mix of both? Naming a cocktail isn’t an easy thing and Umstead breaks down his process for the act.

Finally, Umstead discusses the artwork they have at Kingfisher — namely, the ceramic drinkware that his business partner created for the bar. These, in addition to other art found or created for the bar, add a special feeling to the place (which is right off Main Street in Durham).

Would you be down for a black radish cocktail? Do you live in a small city with a great cocktail bar? We want to hear from you. If you ever have a question or comment for The Manual Podcast folks, give us a shout at — we’re always around! Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter so you can join the discussion. Don’t forget, too, to rate and review wherever you get your podcast.

Further Reading

Editors' Recommendations

Want incredible sushi in NYC? Go to this speakeasy (really!)
The Office of Mr. Moto in the East Village is more than meets the eye.
Office of Mr. Moto sushi entrance.

The entrance to The Office of Mr. Moto. Victorian-era mailbox with a PIN pad inside.

There's no shortage of sushi restaurants in NYC, but at the Big Apple's newest sushi omakase, entering the establishment requires a bit of intrigue. The Office of Mr. Moto isn't your standard sushi omakase — it's a speakeasy. The door to the restaurant is unmarked, and one could easily walk past without realizing it. To even enter the restaurant requires not only a reservation but also some detective work. First, prospective diners must solve a cipher in a letter (sent by email) before entering that code on a PIN pad at the Victoria-era mailbox at the entrance.

Read more
Benefits of ginger: 5 reasons why you should add it to your grocery list today
Learn how ginger could be an essential superfood for your diet
Ginger on cutting board.

All over the world,ginger is consumed in many ways; these include as a spice, in teas and soups, and more! No matter how you choose to enjoy the superfood, it cannot be denied that there are many benefits of ginger. Due to its anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antioxidant properties, there are five significant ways that ginger can positively affect your health.

It doesn’t require a lot of ginger to make a difference, either! Three to four grams of ginger daily is optimal for the average healthy adult. Any more than this can lead to gastrointestinal distress and heartburn. So as long as you stay within the guidelines, you can include ginger in your diet in various ways and reap the many health benefits it provides.

Read more
The 5 best ways to cook Lil Smokies, the perfect appetizer for any gathering
Lil smokies: These snacks may be little, but they're packing big time flavor

No matter if it's game day, or a Saturday backyard picnic, when it comes time to serve an All-American meaty treat, we suggest you look no further than the sure-fire people-pleaser, Little Smokies (AKA Lil' Smokies).  Aside from vegans and vegetarians, we can't think of a single person who would be disappointed to see a piping hot bowl of Little Smokies, complete with various dipping sauces.

These bad boys are super easy to make and are great on their own. However, if you're looking to level-up your Little Smokie game, here are some easy recipes that will have the crowd cheering.

Read more