The Drift Inn located on Dune Road in East Quogue was hit by a suspicious fire in February 2002 while it was closed for the season.
The Drift, as it was affectionately called by its patrons, was the best dive bar in The Hamptons.
While it basically was a small bar, you felt like you were in a larger than life club.
What more can be said when the biggest song played at the bar was, “Sweet Caroline“, by Neil Diamond. When the song came on, “Sweet Caroline, blah blah blah…..” everybody would bang on the walls three times, “Blah (bang) Blah (bang) Blah (bang).”
The music definitely made the Drift Inn. They played party music. The funny thing about party music is that it spans all genres, from disco to rock from crooner to 70’s pop. Songs like Bon Jovi’s “Living on a Prayer” were played along songs like The Foundations “Build me up Buttercup“. The best thing is seeing people who would not normally listen to a particular genre of music, dance and sing to all songs thanks to the affects of alcohol.
That is what makes a dive bar great; cheap alcohol. The Drift had $5 can of beer while most Hamptons bars beers were $7-$10. And since the lines could be so long to get to the bar, people would put beers in their pockets. When cargo shorts became popular, it was as if those pants were made for the Drift. People would fill their 4 pockets with beer cans.
In order to keep (beach) order, security guards were disguised as lifeguards. They were even sitting up top the lifeguard chairs. It was considered a high honor when a lifeguard would step down off their chair and let a patron take their spot for a minute so they could take some pictures up there with friends.
However, the Drift Inn did not have any brawls as most bigger clubs did. The vibe was set by the staff who were laid back. They were all dressed beachy as if they just had picked up their beach blankets and were heading to grab a cold one to end their perfect day.
The parking lot was almost smaller than the club itself. I would laugh because there was approximately 25 parking spaces yet they would need like five valet’s to handle it. If you didn’t get there by 10pm, and the bar opened by 9pm, you would not be able to park on the premises. You would have to drive off Dune road and call a cab (so, so expensive!)
One of the biggest attractions at the Drift Inn was a nightly occurrence. At some point, one of the bartenders would beckon a girl to climb on the bar. At that point, the girl or bartender would then encourage other women to follow. The entire rounded bar had 10-15 girls dancing on it. The bartenders would give these ladies different bottles of liquor. The women would turn the bottles upside down by pouring “shots” down the throats of waiting patrons. Both men and women would pony-up to the bar for a chance to get “shots”.
The Drift Inn’s had a great set up too. There were three bars you could go to for a refill. But the main attraction of Drift Inn was the freedom to be inside, outside. Or you could just hang with your friends on the front porch, which was contoured with bench-like seating. It was also the best place to go dancing. By the end of the night, the entire inside was your dance floor. It didn’t matter where you were standing, if you felt like dancing you did.
The Drift Inn was so unique. The question that many people have asked is what happened at the Drift Inn. An electrical fire in the middle of winter when the bar is closed for the season? Some people have gossiped that it was arson. A couple of years prior, the Pavilion burned to the ground also during the winter as well. What a strange, coincidence?
Southampton Town purchased the property that the Drift Inn was on. They turned into a camp grounds. Interesting….
The Drift Inn is without a doubt irreplaceable, unforgettable and hope-fully resurrectible. This is the tribute to the Finest Saturday Night bar in the Hamptons: The Drift Inn.