Review: Highball App


Highball is a sleek and simple recipe library app. It doesn’t start you out with a ton of (usually off-base) recipes like many cocktail apps do. When you start it for the first time, you see only a Mint Julep, a Tom Collins, and an Old Fashioned (closer than usual to the original, so it’s a start).
The three recipes you start with
That’s your whole library. It looks a little like Apple’s “Passbook” app, and when you click a drink name, it expands to show the full recipe, along with an illustration of the drink. Underneath the main screen, there’s a “+” button you can use to add new drinks.
The main screen, with more recipes added. You can drag and drop to rearrange.My preferred Martini
You can create your own recipes, share them on social media, save them to your camera roll as a recipe card, and import recipes from Twitter or your camera roll.
Shared recipes have a QR code in the corner, allowing imported recipe image files to become instantly editable.
Alexander recipe by IBAThe "add from library" screen

Creating or editing a recipe involves:

  • Entering the name
  • Entering ingredients, and using scrolling selectors to enter the measurements (I like this, because it makes formatted fractions and abbreviations easy, and can easily be converted to and from metric)
  • Typing in any instructions
  • Building an illustration of the drink
  • Choosing the background color for the recipe card

 

Adding a new drinkEntering measurementsEntering ingredientsEntering the instructionsThe image editorFinished image. Drawback: no way to layer drink illustrations.Enter the recipe creditCranberry background selectedFinished recipe cardThe drink (Virgin. It's too early! Great breakfast mocktail, though.)

 

The Good 

  • The whole app is simple, colorful, and clean. Nothing cluttered or confusing here!
  • Recipe cards are very readable. They’re well-formatted, and a great way to share or just save a drink.
  • The image builder for new recipes is a lot of fun!
  • The app is free. It’s monetized through product sales from Studio Neat:
    • An ice kit with an insulated ice mold and a chisel for making extremely clear giant ice cubes.
    • A Simple syrup kit that’s basically a marked bottle… This one isn’t too exciting, but it helps make the app free, which is cool!
    • They also include a tip jar, which I recommend using if you like the app. It’s important to support people who make new useful things.
  • Sharing is easy and fun, and it doesn’t require the recipient to download the app! This is a great way to store and share recipes. It’s especially useful for inventors.
  • You aren’t restricted to a pre-entered list of ingredients (some apps do this), so go ahead and add that eye of newt.
  • There’s a large library of drink recipes for import, including recent shares on twitter. While some recipes are a little off, most of the classics are at least there.

 

The Bad 

  • Using it on the iPhone 5s, there was some lag scrolling through my saved cards. This might just be my phone. It didn’t make the app hard to use; it just didn’t look as nice.
  • The image builder is missing a few key items:
    • Margarita glass
    • Muddled mint
    • Any way of layering drink colors
    • Shot glass (Let’s face it, some recipes are for shots, even if that’s kind of a slurpy way to drink)
  • At the risk of pretending to be Instagram, it would be nice to have a photo option to go with the illustration.
  • When browsing “Add From The Library,” if you click a recipe and return to the menu, you start at the beginning and have to scroll again to find your spot. Fixed in update after review published
  • The products that support the app are very expensive. And I want that ice kit. Please?

 

All in all, though it has its flaws, this app is already becoming my go-to drink recipe reference. It’s good to have all my recipes in one place. Not just a bunch of recipes, but a personalized set of my own recipe cards.
I give this app 9 shakers out of 10.
9 out of 10 ain't bad!
It could use just a couple of tweaks, but it’s certainly the best simple recipe app I’ve tried so far.
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