The first time I heard of Swig, I thought this was a joke, and a bad one for that matter. It’s a social network, but wait, don’t discard it just yet. A social network for the drinkers. Not drunkards, not alcoholics, but sommeliers, bartenders, hedonists, beer brewers, and you know, general folk who like all sort of booze and the circumstance surrounding it.
I don’t like to be judgmental at all, even less without trying, so with my modest cup of coffee in one hand and a chocolate muffin in my mouth I set out to explore the depths of alcohol sub-culture.
You register as you would in any social network, with your email, nick name and a password, and immediately you can start following all sorts of very funny people. I say funny because the first thing I saw when I looked at my timeline after having tapped Follow on a few random people from the suggested list was this:
From there, things started looking cheerful for me. You can choose which sort of alcohol beverages you prefer – beer, wine, cocktails or something stronger, or you can choose everything. You can also set a picture of your sober, or not very, mug as your userpic, but this is the only time I faced a bug in the app – it did not let me add an image from my Gallery, so I galore without a photo.
Basically, all you can do here is post images, recipes, locations or simply musings about the greatest, or the worst, drinks of your life, and read, like and comment on the same from the others.
The app has Top list of users, as well as changes its Suggestions every week, or so, and you can pick from a number of interesting folks totally engrossed in intoxicating themselves or their customers with the world’s most interesting kinds of booze.
Interesting it is, for I have discovered a few beer brands that look awesome, and are nothing I have ever heard of. I missed the point that you can actually add other people’s drinks to your wish list. Otherwise, I would have remembered those weird beer names.
Speaking about user variety, I found Swig being dominated by beer lovers in the first place because even though I marked Cocktails as my preferred drink (not because I prefer cocktails to beers but for the sake of experimenting), I still got suggestions of beer fans to follow.
As for the audience, I was pleased to find that the majority, as of last week at least, consisted of bartenders, beer brewers, bar owners and people who seem to be quite professional about their drinking hobby. Many of them explicitly post in their profiles that they prefer to drink at daytime, and nighttime, too. Of course, there is a certain spectrum of users who also look for company, hook-ups maybe, but I also noticed the geography of users is so diverse chances are this may not turn into yet another Tinder.
According to this interview with the developer, Swig is popular among 25-35 year olds, equally male and female users from both rural and large city areas like Berlin, London, New York, San Francisco, and Chicago lovers of Bud Light.
You can add your location to your Profile, so you see more geo-relevant people to follow and bar suggestions. Yes, users on Swig can also recommend bars, restaurants and night clubs, with map pins, photos, whatever, so I see a big opportunity for small businesses here to pitch their alcohol beverages serving establishments.
If there is one thing that I found fairly satisfying is the design of the app. After a few low-res introductory images, the app’s UI is clean, but so tiny I had to squeeze to see where everything was. That needs to change, or at least offer options because the tiny font and retro icons may look like the developer is nostalgic of 2007 (not like I am a big fan of Google’s Material Design, either). If the smaller screen smartphones may bear with the UI, larger tablets don’t make any favors to the app’s looks.
That said, I appreciate the color scheme and how clean and uncluttered everything is. Moreover, it is a very simple and straightforward interface, so there is zero learning curve. Here, everything is focused on the contents of your timeline, or your wish list if you like, but not on ads, content curated à-la Facebook’s obnoxious algorithms, or banal love quotes and ridiculous selfies from your sorrow ex.
- Simple, user-friendly content-focused UI, neat color scheme
- No intrusive ads so far
- Create posts about your drinks, share images
- Pin bars and restaurants on a map for everyone to see
- Add someone’s drink to your wish list and thus keep a neat to-do list for the next Friday night
- Browse and save videos, beer reviews and recipes of drinks
- Locate the nearest bar serving the drinks you like in ‘Nearby,’ or simply see what people around you are drinking
- Get points for posting and compete with others who’s got more drink-explore points (kind of silly, but competitive folks may like it)
- Searching for something on Swig is pretty fast, and you see suggestions as you type
- Small font, outdated icons
The bottom line is Swig is an online lounge bar for professional bartenders and bar owners, as well as a perfect getaway into the wild, untamed, dark zone of your other self. The one that takes off the office suit, packs up a few pairs of jeans and sandals and drifts off into the bulbous waves of Oktoberfest every year. The one that can outdrink a Russian, or die trying. It’s like Facebook for drinkers, but without Mark Zuckerberg grinning at your personal data stored on his servers, or a bunch of your ‘be-friended’ family elders mustering your drinking habits.
Finally, the social network seems to be getting enough traction to generate a substantial user base, so you won’t feel bored or lonely boasting off. Despite a few minor design flaws, the app seems accomplished and ready for prime-time.
Personally, I am very comfortable with a tiny drop of cognac in my coffee on Sundays, and find it sadistically delightful watching other people’s photos taken under the influence. I would not recommend it to anyone on AA 12 Steps program, though.