First look: what to expect when new cocktail bar, The Drawing Room at The Gresham, opens


Story by Sam Bygrave
Photographs by Declan Roache

The Gresham, two-time winning Bar of the Year at the Bartender Magazine Australian Bar Awards, is creating a bar within its walls called The Drawing Room.

“If you’ve visited us here at The Gresham you’ll recognize the room,” says The Gresham’s bar manager, Ryan Lane. “Our once private ‘lounge’ has undergone a new, yet heritage-feel, evolution. The room itself has always been under-utilised, so I came up with the ‘barception’ idea; a bar within a bar.”

Lane was inspired by a visit to The Dead Rabbit in New York last year, where he noticed the two bars share a lot in common.

“When I sat in [Dead Rabbit’s] Taproom, pint of Guinness in hand, I felt as if I was sitting at the bar at The Gresham,” he says. “Then, after a short wait, I headed up the stairwell to their second element, Parlour. It is a gorgeous, smaller, more intimate room focusing more on the cocktail side of things.”

If you’ve been to The Gresham you’ll know that you can get a great cocktail from the bar, but you’re more likely to be drinking a great beer and a whiskey or three — it’s just the feel of the place. But with some top quality bartending talent on hand, Lane is going to put their cocktailing skills to use in The Drawing Room.

“TDR will be adding another dimension to The Gresham that will, I hope, organically evolve into a heavy cocktail-focused element for our humble little bar,” he says.

They’ve used the same master craftsman who built The Gresham to instal a one-bartender bar for the space which is designed to feel as if it’s been there all along. That bartender will be making drinks for 24 seated guests, and because the space is small, they’ll be running a waitlist inside The Gresham (you’ll get a text to let you know when your table is ready).

Expect a different atmosphere to The Gresham as well — Lane says they’ll be creating a more relaxed feel.

“The piano will finally get a work out, with a live pianist joining us over the busier nights, something I experienced and fell in love with whilst at Parlour at Dead Rabbit,” Lane says.

In terms of the cocktails, the short list of 10 is structured as a chronological timeline of Brisbane and Queensland’s history. It starts with a drink named for the boat the first settlers sailed upon in the 1830’s, Artemisia, with a boatload of Australian ingredients involved: Brookie’s Seasonal Gin, Maidenii Vermouth & Tamborine Mountain Quandong & Gentian Liqueur.

“The cocktail offering will start small,” says Lane, “with 10 drinks to “test the capabilities” of the small one man bar, but I envisage over time, and with demand this list will become the focus of The Drawing Room, and organically evolve into a much larger list. Twists of tried and tested classics, with as much of an Australian spin as possible.”

The Drawing Room is expected to open at the start of August, and will trade Wednesday to Saturday. Take a look inside the bar below.