Swig: The Social Drinking App For the Social Drinking Butterfly

Great name, right? The interface is orange and white, and their logo is a cute little penguin with a martini. My absolute favorite graphical interface is their loading screen. It’s a beer mug that fills to bubbles, captioned “pouring.” The design is very clean and modern, and the interface is similar to Instagram, where you scroll through your friends’ pictures, captions and comments. 

The search function is up and down. For beers I’ve found it to be a hit or miss. Finding a San Tan beer on Swig was easier than finding a San Tan beer on Untappd, but I’ve also had to enter a beer into Swig, something I’ve only had to do with homebrews on Untappd. I’m assuming that Untappd is benefiting from years of user-entered beers, or a more robust database. I’d actually be incredibly curious to know what databases the respective apps are using. TK

The wine search is excellent. My guess is they rank by popularity, but it found my wine with just the first part of the winery. I put in “Sobon” and it came up “Sobon Estates Zinfandel Old Vines” immediately. It does not have wine bottle search, something all wine check-in apps have now. It also does not have you enter in very much information about the wine, so it is not as comprehensive as apps focused solely on wine.

You may be wondering how to add a cocktail. This was the question that plagued us when we were trying to create our own app. Essentially, you have two options. You search for the name of your cocktail, and if others have been to your location and added it before, you will be able to check into it, just like a wine or beer. Or, you can search by the liquor. I searched “St-Germain” and a “St-Germain Cocktail” appeared. I checked into that, and added the details below. Something I learned while checking my “Drink Stats”—it counted this “St-Germain Cocktail” as a spirit rather than a cocktail. That’s interesting to me, because I’m not much of a straight drinker, I will likely always have my spirits in some sort of cocktail. But it does change the way I’ll search for cocktails. I’ll call my Well Margarita a margarita, but with great tequila I might want to share the spirit. 

One thing you must know is that cannot add a drink without a picture. I find that annoying; that may not be an issue for you. I’m one to forget to check into my drinks until I get home, and that makes it harder to take pictures. I improvised with some pictures from the night. I get why: you want to see the picture of the drink or the bottle so someone else could find it or you could entice them to drink it. Whether this bothers you or it doesn’t, it is a feature of which to take note. 

Swig is gamified, in that you earn points for every check-in. There is a leaderboard for the week, so you can compare to your friends. It’s not really clear how the points are calculated, but it seems like you get more for going places than drinking at home. As far as I can see, there are not any levels or titles, which, why even have points if I don’t get to call myself a beer czar or something?

Swig does not have any sort of rating system for your drinks, which is unusual in comparison to other apps. I don’t necessarily think it’s a bad thing; I find Untappd’s star system to be completely arbitrary anyway. 

One of the great emphases of Untappd or Drync is the beer and wine recommendations. Especially with Drync, because their model is to sell you wine directly, so they want to entice you to buy. As you can imagine, this would be a lot harder on something like Swig, because there are just too many types of drinks you can check into. But more than that, I would characterize their focus as on the “social” rather than the “drinking.” Their explore section is more about places and zeitgeisty hashtags like #wineselfie than the drinks themselves. This is important, depending on what you are looking for. 

You can connect with me on Swig @NicoleStGermain! 

Nicole St. Germain

Nicole St. Germain is Creative Director of St. Germain Cellars, a craft beer snob, and a wine novice. Her cocktail of choice is anything with St-Germain liqueur.