Ed+bK bar reporter Alexander Heaney Stone says The Gresham, with its extensive lists of rye whiskies and bourbons, is shaping up to be one of Brisbane's best bars.
Tucked away a little bit past Post Office Square at 308 Queen Street. Brisbane is the old Queensland National Australia Bank building and nestled in a room that at one time held printing presses, is the newly opened The Gresham bar.
Andrew Baturo, Paul Piticco and Denis Sheahan, the men behind Popolo Italian Kitchen & Bar have just opened the doors to their new venture - The Gresham, named after a nearby historic hotel which opened in 1890.
Constructed in 1881, building in which The Gresham is located is heritage listed and as anyone who has ever tried to modify, renovate or operate a business in one of these buildings will know, that means a lot of boxes have to be ticked every step along the way. The Gresham's design team has done an amazing job of allowing the bar to capture the feel of the era without being stuffy. There’s plenty of cedar, high ceilings, fireplaces and antique touches but it’s still a place where you can feel at home. All the furniture has been custom made and this really gives the bar an inviting feel.
Leaving the original safe found during renovations was a pretty cool idea too. Unfortunately, although there was talk of having a safe cracking competition, the safe cracker hired to get in found no hidden stash of gold or bonds.
I arrived at the bar to hear one of the bartenders say he wanted to put the fun back into drink and the team has certainly has achieved that.
My first drink was a rye cherry cola spider consumed through an old style red and white paper straw. Definitely a fun start. I followed this up with a Sapporo and 12 year old Suntory Yamazaki Whisky boiler maker and then a Holgate American road trip with Jamesons whisky. The night definitely was going well and I was already anticipating my hangover as I leapt head first into the cocktail menu.
Next one the resident bartenders, Sean Chow who recently took out the industry award for Australian Bartender of the Year, made me a very, very good old fashioned. This was followed by my favourite on the cocktail list, a Mothers Ruin containing gin, vermouth, vanilla, orange and a touch of vanilla.
The cocktail list itself is quite impressive with plenty of twists on modern classics. I loved the aromas as the cocktails were being made, it gave the bar a wonderful smell.
I also enjoyed all the little touches throughout the venue. Peanuts are offered as snacks, free match books are available in a custom-made box on the counter and even the coasters are even nicer than normal. All these little extras really go into making the venue just that little bit more special.
Outside is a small wrap around terrace that overlooks the laneway.
All in all I rather enjoyed this night out.
Best tip: Toby’s Estate Coffee is also available from 7am– 12 on weekday mornings for early risers from the back window or the bourbon room.
Bottom line: Go in trust the bartenders and have a great night out.
Disclaimer: Ed+bK was a guest of The Gresham.