Mar 19, 2024 - News

Local Limelight: Kingfisher's Michelle Vanderwalker

Photo illustration of Michelle Vanderwalker in a polaroid photo.

Photo illustration: Axios Visuals. Photo: Courtesy of Kingfisher Cocktail Bar

Durham cocktail bar — and Triangle favorite — Kingfisher is back with new food, new drinks and new wares.

State of plate: The James Beard-nominated bar, known for its locally-sourced ingredients, took a two-week hiatus to revamp its menu and make new cups, plates and bowls.

  • And co-owners Sean Umstead and Michelle Vanderwalker (who makes the dinner- and drinkware) have expanded their downtown Durham presence to include a burger joint (QueenBurger) and a neighborhood bar (Queeny's).

Axios spoke with Vanderwalker for our Local Limelight series. Responses have been edited for Smart Brevity.

🦐 Favorite place to eat: Seraphine.

🏊 What you think the Triangle is missing: An infrastructure of good outdoor public pools! It would be such a great way to bring the community together, provide recreation, a place for all generations to interact, exercise, and learn water safety.  

👯‍♀️ What brought you to the Triangle? My friend I've known since we were two years old. I came to visit and loved the size of the city, culture, and climate.

📱 What is your first read in the morning? The New York Times and Washington Post (online).

🍜 Favorite place to drink when not in Kingfisher: Dashi Izakaya

🍸 Go-to cocktail: Manhattan or Gin Rickey (depends on my mood!).

📕 Last great book you read: "The Covenant of Water" by Abraham Verghese.

ğŸŽ§ Go-to podcast: "LeVar Burton Reads." I have a nostalgic attachment to his voice, and his enthusiasm for stories and reading is infectious.

📺 How you unwind at the end of the day: Either read in bed or watch "One Piece" with my teenager.

🏝️ Favorite long weekend spot: Well, my weekends are mid-week, but camping for a few nights on Ocracoke Island really restores my soul — walking on the empty beach at sunrise and reading all day!

🐶 What you are looking forward to: Spending many days at the Eno River this summer with my toddler and dog.

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