A step into The Gresham is a step back in time.
March 19, 2014
A step into The Gresham is a step back in time. Its home — the heritage-listed National Australia Bank building — is drenched in history, and rather than change the face, the owners have worked with the grain to create a space straight from 1881.
Picture three-storey high walls adorned with photographs and works of yesteryear, a pressed tin ceiling and one ornate 20-bulb chandelier. The old wooden floorboards are topped with large rugs, custom-made Chesterfield couches, cedar tables and red leather bar stools. If this were back in the day, we're certain the room would be filled with cigar smoke. It just has that feel to it.
Above the marble fireplace, you'll also find a portrait of Edward Robert Drury (1832-1896), the soldier and banker that commissioned and oversaw construction of the original building. Drury took chances, taking out massive loans and making risky acquisitions (without asking his directors) to create this architectural gem which became known as Drury's Temple — in celebration of his achievements, everyone is encouraged to dedicate their first drink to Drury.
And after seeing the drinks list, good luck stopping at just one. Whiskey is the name of the game here, with more than 100 on the menu. Have a few drams of your favourite before asking the bartenders (who have an almost encyclopaedic knowledge of whiskey) to show you something new.
Besides the whiskey selection, The Gresham's bartenders have mastered the art of cocktail making. For pure nostalgia, we recommend The Sunny Boy — made to taste like the old-school icy treat. It consists of Ketel One vodka infused with coconut & butter, pineapple, passionfruit and vanilla.
And for something whiskey based, try the Terry's Best Kept Secret. It's made with Talisker 10-year-old, Amaro Nonino, coffee liquor, orange glaze and black walnut bitters. Think of it as The Gresham's take on a whiskey espresso martini.
Besides superb cocktails and an ornate 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.
Updated February 1, 2023
Images: Millie Tang
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