For a long time, downtown Houston, more specifically Main Street, was an underappreciated gem as people took their reveling and nighttime shenanigans to Midtown or Washington Avenue. Things have been on the uptick for the better part of a decade as downtown has exploded with cocktail bars of all kinds. Something that has been sorely lacking though has been a bar with island flair and a casual laid-back atmosphere. Like a sight for sore eyes, High & Dry has arrived.
Located at 306 S. Main St., High & Dry is in the thick of it all, sharing space with heavy hitters like Captain Foxheart’s, Moving Sidewalk, and Tongue Cut-Sparrow. Walking into High & Dry is reminiscent of a speakeasy. As you walk through the entrance there’s a narrow set of stairs that lead you to the second floor, but step over the threshold and you’re transported to your own personal oasis to the tunes of reggae and funk.
“The name High & Dry [comes from] the concept of elevating rum without adding all the extra sugar. The tiki scene is a little intimidating for some people, so we want to be a bridge,” co-owner Levi Tatum says. “We want to be that resort-style bar in the heart of downtown.”
The drink menu definitely reflects what they are trying to go for, being a rum-forward bar. Bartender Lucas Provenzano talked me through the menu to gauge my interests and I immediately went for something flashy, the Ginger Flame—featuring Overproof Rum, Reposado Tequila, Campari and mango set aflame with ginger and a Habanero Thai chili pepper tincture. Most might be turned off by the habanero, but give it a shot; the Ginger Flame attacks your taste buds with spices and a subdued sweetness, at its essence boozy and spicy.
Another twist Levi and company put on a tried and true drink is what they call the Coco Loco; using their homemade Pistachio Orgeat, which takes 6-plus hours of production, it is mixed with banana rum and is their take on the Piña Colada. I haven’t seen a Pistachio Orgeat anywhere else, so if you're interested this is the place to come and try it.
If the drink menu is too outside-the-box for you, they have your standard fare of liquors—but if you’re feeling adventurous they carry nearly 100 types of rum, all hand-selected and personally tasted by the H&D crew. A little-known fact: you can indeed sip on rum straight or on ice; the El Dorado is choice and I highly recommend trying any of the vintages.
Rum is a complex spirit that gets a bad rep for being included in overly sugary drinks. High & Dry has the right idea with their rum-forward cocktail program; the philosophy isn’t about how sweet they can make things, but more about what flavors can they combine to accentuate the rum.
“Build the cocktail around the spirit,” Tatum says. One thing that is absolutely clear is that the crew at High & Dry not only utilize rum but they respect it, and should you find yourself on Main Street be sure to drop by this new urban oasis.