1142 S Lamar Blvd
Austin, TX 78704
Friends, The Highball is cool. Not “oh yeah I don’t mind if you have a couple of my fries” cool, but rather “this joint makes the Old Spice guy looks like a chump” cool.
The Highball is a multi-purpose venue located in South Austin, and when you’re in the 04 you pretty much have an automatic license to be saucesome.
You may have heard of the Rock’n'Bowl in New Orleans, possibly the most famous bowling alley out there (I would argue perhaps the only famous bowling alley out there). Well, you’re looking at the original lanes. When the folks at The Highball heard R’n'B were moving premises, they swooped in and purchased all the original lanes and fixtures, then restored them and relocated them to the ATX. That’s pretty damn cool. Combine these vintage bowling lanes with quilted vinyl booths, old-school manual scoring tables and retro chandeliers and the cool factor increases exponentially. Imagine telling a date you’re taking them bowling, and them bringing them here? I personally would golf clap and offer you a “well played”.
Admit it, with enough drinks downed, karaoke is always super fun. And even MORE fun when the songlist is populated with up to the minute top 40 crap as well as classic karaoke favourites like “Sweet Home Alabama”, “Jolene” and pretty much any Britney Spears song (hey, you’re drunk, remember?). I myself may be guilty of dueting on Skid Row’s “I Remember You” ever time I’ve been here, and I’m still hoarse from the high notes. The Highball offer a number of different themed karaoke rooms with full bar service. What could go wrong!? The cool factor is kicked into high gear with the addition of an iPhone app which features their entire song catalogue, so you don’t have to wait to share the folder. Here’s a tip though, do everything you can to avoid getting the “Xanadu” disco themed room (as seen above). The light/mirror combo resulted in migraines for two of our group and we were lucky to escape without an epileptic fit.
If you don’t want to play, and you don’t want to sing, you can always show up at The Highball, park your butt on some gold glitter vinyl chairs and peruse their extensive cocktail menu. I went ahead an ordered the Bloody Mary. The bar staff were extremely friendly, taking the time to chat and explain in detail about how they make their bloody marys. I told them I was excited to try it, and asked them to make it fancy.
And so, it was served to me with a bright purple orchid. Faaaaaaancy! I love that they took the time and had the sense of humour to do that. Having a bartender who is actually happy to be at work makes a huge difference to your experience as a patron. My bar homie talked with great pride about their Bloody Mary mix (which is a house-made recipe) as was exceptionally pleased to tell me about the addition of a splash of Guinness. While I give him full points for care and enthusiasm, I unfortunately detest additions to my Marys such as stout or red wine (as documented in this previous rant). So, it was a decent effort, certainly drinkable, but there was a level of flavour there that wasn’t to my liking. While there are certainly better Bloody Marys in Austin, you have to come here and try their other classic cocktails.
And look how serious they are about the decor: even the bartenders are of the era!
The Highball also have a full menu, so you can drop by for a meal or just a bar snack. As I was kicking my legs about in my bar chair, one of the chefs pulled a whole rack of ribs out of the oven in front of us. The smell alone was enough to have me add it to my “must eat” list.
For your first HB experience, I recommend you start with a visit on a Thursday night when Dale Watson plays a live set. Not just a classic Texas Honky Tonk singer, he is also famous for writing a song about his craptacular experience with one of the worst airlines in Australia, Tiger.
Go ahead, get your cool on.