Overstuffed tote bags and preppy, nautical attire are but two of the essentials necessary for one to make the trek from New York City to the Hamptons or Montauk on a Friday afternoon. Not to mention the traveler’s drink of choice—maybe a glass of chilled white wine or a can of beer—intended to ease him/her into the weekend early and make the journey of three plus hours a little more bearable.
A recent NY Times article titled “To the Hamptons, and Step on It!” compared the two most popular ways to get to this summer destination without getting behind the steering wheel (or having a chauffeur to do that for you). The article recounts stories of various passengers who loyally hop aboard the Jitney, while others endure a sweaty Penn Station terminal and its even rowdier party en route to the Long Island shores. While many flock to the beaches and begin drinking upon their arrival, the party begins earlier and is a part of the traveling experience for those aboard a Long Island Railroad train car or a more upscale Jitney bus, referred to as the Ambassador.
Those who choose to pay the extra bucks to take the Ambassador are provided with wine and snacks along with their luxury bus seating. Passengers are polite, orderly and often seen quietly reading the newspaper or toying with their iPads over sips of wine.
The train from Penn Station to Montauk is an entirely different scene. Even on early morning train rides out to the beach, riders fill every seat and get their drink on as soon as they leave the station. The ritual of getting the party started before hitting the beach is a highlight for many train travelers.
Crisp white wines and beach cocktails are an essential part of the Hamptons/Montauk experience for many. But it seems that ride from city side to beachside has become the newest booze locale. As the summer nears to a close with August just around the corner, passengers will be sure to toast its finale—whether it’s sparkling wine in a Dixie cup overflowing onto the train floor or a plastic wine glass on board the Ambassador.
Nicole Gerszberg is a student at Wesleyan University. Her work has been published on “The Choice” blog on NYTimes.com