• Dining

Low-N-Slow BBQ Meets Handcrafted Libations

Swig & Swine gives West Ashley another great barbecue option

Anthony DiBernardo is the co-owner and pitmaster at Swig & Swine.


June 12, 2014
By Kathleen Curry
Contributing Writer

Swig & Swine arrives just in time for summer vacation and cookout season. It’s the brainchild of local restaurant talents Anthony DiBernardo, Steve Kish, and Jonathan Kish. Each man brings key ingredients to Swig & Swine’s recipe for success.

“I’ve done everything. When I got to do my own thing, I chose barbecue, because it was what I was most passionate about,” says DiBernardo. “ I am a chef, pit master, owner, dishwasher, and pastry chef.” He says with a chuckle, “My mentality towards ownership has always been all in.”

He’s not kidding. Originally from New Jersey, DiBernardo is a Navy veteran with more than 25 years experience in food, performing every imaginable role in the food business. Prior to Swig & Swine’s launch, DiBernardo was the Operating Manager at Rita’s Seaside Grille on Folly Beach, and running his own catering business on the side.

Steve Kish has 32 years experience in restaurants, helping launch Downtown’s 82 Queen, and more recently, Lowcountry Bistro. His brother Jonathan Kish’s expertise is finance and marketing. Getting bit by the restaurant bug is multi-generational. Steve’s son, Patrick, grew up working at 82 Queen. He served as a manager there and at Lowcountry Bistro before joining Swig & Swine.

DiBernardo says he drove by the new space, a former #1 Car Wash, for years. “Once I walked through the first time, I had the layout in my mind, and I put pen to paper.” He adds that his friend, Bobby Perry of the Kickin’ Chicken, helped nail the name “Swig and Swine.”

No barbecue man worth his salt rub would rush the barbecue cooking process. Swig & Swine’s smoker, custom-built by Guerrilla Fabrication, burns only hickory, oak, and pecan woods. All meats receive a dry rub, then the “low and slow” cooking process begins. Brisket takes 14 hours, pork butt takes from eight to 10 hours, and the pork belly takes six to 10 hours.

So what’s on the menu? Starters include platters of six or 12 chicken wings, pimiento dip and crackers, a jar of pickled vegetables, a meat and cheese board, and a mixed green salad with three dressing options: honey mustard, barbecue vinaigrette, and herb vinaigrette.

Sides include baked potato salad, hash and rice, collards, macaroni and cheese, coleslaw, beans with brisket, pickled vegetables, and Brunswick stew. Brunswick stew is a Southern Appalachia “gumbo” of slow-cooked meats, tomatoes, corn, and lima beans in a broth, barbecue, and Worcestershire-based sauce that’s accented with onion and garlic flavors.

Barbecue sandwiches are available with pulled pork, beef brisket, smoked turkey, smoked pork belly, or house-made sausage. Each one comes with the choice of a side. Barbecue platters also come in pulled pork, beef brisket, smoked turkey, smoked pork belly, homemade sausage and the customers choice of two sides. For customers struggling to pick just one, there are two and three meat platters that come with two sides, and a family platter of five meats that comes with three (large-portion) sides. No meat is cut until the customer orders it. So far, beef brisket and smoked turkey have been the hottest sellers.

Rib plates come with the customer’s choice of two sides and are St. Louis cut. The St. Louis cut uses ribs from the pig’s sides, as opposed to baby back cut, which is closer to the spine. In the dining room, two labeled chalkboard profiles of a pig and a cow educate customers on what part of the animal their cuts are coming from. Other menus on the wall are also chalkboards, lending to the “fresh from the farm” feel of the space.

For dessert, there’s house-made banana pudding, and a seasonal four-inch pie that feeds up to two. For customers seeking large orders, the pulled pork, beef brisket, smoked turkey, and smoked pork belly are available by the pound, and all sides are available by the pint and quart.

So that’s the swine. As for the swig, behind the bar there’s multiple varieties of bourbon, including 15 and 23-year-old Pappy Van Winkle. Beers are mostly craft, but a few cheaper cult favorites are included as well. To help create a bar menu that best complemented barbecue, DiBernardo consulted Bottles’ liquor expert Travis Hartong, who is also a member of the Charleston Brown Water Society.

The Swig & Swine logo, which embodies a crown cap, was created by local designer John Lee Clair. Inside and outside the restaurant, repurposed wood is a hallmark of the tables, chairs, booths, the bar, and its seating. Outdoor tables are repurposed wooden industrial cable spools. They have been stained, lacquered, turned on their sides, and topped with an umbrella. By the way, live music on the deck is coming soon.

Charity is a crucial ingredient in DiBernardo’s business recipe. The Daniel Glenn O’ Rourk Memorial Benefit Bash (for children fighting cancer), Camp Happy Days’ Halloween Bash, and Ashley River Creative School events are just three of his regular projects in recent years. Coming up this Saturday, June 14, Swig & Swine is participating in Holy City Brewing’s Flag Day Burger and Beer Festival. This event benefits Charleston’s pet charities as part of Rachael Ray’s $100K Challenge to shelters nationwide.

Swig & Swine is located at 1217 Savannah Hwy. For more information, call 225-3805 or visit swigandswinebbq.com. Find their daily specials at facebook.com/swigandswinebbq.

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