A step into The Gresham is a step back in time. Picture three-storey high walls adorned with photographs and works of yesteryear, iced with a pressed tin ceiling and 20-bulb chandelier. On the floor a large rug covering wooden floors is topped with custom-made Chesterfield couches, cedar tables and red leather bar stools. Behind the bar wooden shelves are lined with a wall of every premium whiskey you can imagine; a ladder is needed to reach the top shelf.
The Gresham is a bar drenched in history, and rather than to change the face, the owners have worked with the grain to create a space straight from 1881. Above the marble fireplace is a portrait of Edward Robert Drury (1832-1896), the soldier and banker that commissioned and oversaw construction of the bar's housing. Drury took chances, making massive loans and risky acquisitions without asking his directors to create what became known as Drury's temple.
The heritage-listed National Australia Bank building is now a landmark in its own right, and so we'll always dedicate the first drink to Drury. After seeing the drinks list, good luck stopping at one. Whiskey is the name of the game here and with more than 100 on the menu the question will always be, which to try next?
Besides the whiskey selection, The Gresham's bartenders are masters of the art of cocktail making. No really, the bar boasts Sean Chow, 2013 Bartender of Year, on it's roster. An easy pick, start with the house specialty, The Gresham Lane. A mix of authentic US cherry cola mixed with rye whisky and lime, you can also give in to the child within and let them add a scoop of vanilla ice-cream to make it a spider. Perfect.
Besides a perfect interior, The Gresham has perfected the small touches – 'G' stamped stirring sticks, unique coasters, free peanuts and boxes of matches for business cards. The Gresham also swings its window open at 7am weekdays to the aroma of coffee beans for CBD workers. Those wanting a different type of poison need wait til noon for the towering cedar doors to open up yesteryear.
Images: Millie Tang