Checking out Swig and their plans for Houston

Howdy, folks, and welcome back to HHR! Today, we’ve got a quick post, one I haven’t done on the blog in quite a while. It’s a bit of a restaurant review but also an exploration of a new concept in Houston. Speaking of restaurant reviews, though, if you’re interested in that sort of thing, please check out HHR on Facebook or Instagram, as I regularly hit up old Houston favorites. Today, though, we’re at Swig, a Utah-based drink chain specializing in customized sodas. Swig opened its first Houston location in May 2023, and this one in Fulshear opened less than a month ago. To be frank, the concept could be described as Sonic without the food, but the chain does have a small number of consumables. You can choose from several premade drinks, or you can build a custom drink, and this is where Swig really shines. These options go far beyond Sonic and come closer in touch with the customization levels of Starbucks. In addition to soda as a base, Swig has a Reviver option, an energy drink, and a Refesher, which consists of either sparkling or flat water. Into these bases, you can add flavorings, fresh fruit pieces or puree, tapioca, cream, gummy sharks, almost whatever you want. What really made me happy was their sugar-free flavoring options, as I tend to drink diet soda. I already knew I wanted a Diet Dr. Pepper with Sugar-Free Coconut and Vanilla, and found it was already on the menu under the name “Save Me Jade.” I also ordered the pretzel bites as it was the only non-sweet item on the menu. The drink was delicious, and the pretzel bites were certainly acceptable, although obviously a bit old by mid-day. While the edible side of things was fantastic, there were some issues.

So, I’ll start off by saying I did enjoy my visit to Swig, and when one opens closer to me, I could see myself stopping by on occasion. However, I do have some issues with the concept. First, the drive-thru wait was horrible. I first spotted the line from across the parking lot and attended some other business to let it die down from the noon lunch crowd. Upon my return, the line was certainly shorter, but my wait would still be ridiculous. All in all, it took about 15 minutes to get in line to get my drink. I considered placing an order online and picking it up, however this location has no walkup window or service. Remember my comparison to Sonic earlier? That’s actually a comparison made by the founders themselves, who said they liked going to Sonic but hated waiting in line for others to get their food. Well, at least at Sonic, I could go to a stall. It’s also worth throwing out the pretzel bites were served in a coffee cup and immediately formed a cloud of condensation on the lid, which rained back on them, making them damp and unappealing after a while. However, I did have some friends who tried the cookies and enjoyed them greatly. Swig’s expansion plans are nationwide; however, in Texas, the company has filed for about 15 stores and has under 60 stores throughout the U.S. At this point, there are three Swig locations open in DFW, two in Houston, with a third set to open soon in the Webster area. I think Swig has a good concept, and I really want to return and try some of the other flavorings that look more like snow cone toppings (Tigers Blood and Peppermint!) Although I have my doubts they’ll find the success they’re looking for here. Drive-thru-only chains have targeted Houston for years as a key growth market, and the reality is you need a balance to thrive here. In the meantime though, go get a Swig (y’all have to pay me if you use that).