What’s Better Than a Bar Car on Your Commute? A Tiki-Themed Bar Car.

A singular time on Metro-North

Metro-North bar car
A Metro-North bar car, sans tiki decor.
Metropolitan Transportation Authority of the State of New York, CC BY 2.0

If you’ve ever taken a long journey via Amtrak, you may well have spent some time eating or drinking in a dedicated car. There’s something oddly singular about the experience of having a glass of beer in a bar that is itself hurtling down the track — but that’s part of the charm of it.

On a smaller scale, the bar cars on certain Metro-North lines had their own history and iconography — which also embodied the way certain passengers could take a seat and unwind on their way home. When the agency opted to take bar cars out of service in 2014, there was much mourning — and, consequently, much celebration when Metro-North brought them back, albeit with some changes.

Two years later, the bar car revival came to an end. But memories persist, especially of those cars that took things to a slightly different place.

The standard decor on most bar cars is about what you’d expect, which is to say functional and no-nonsense. There was an exception to this, however, and a new article by Michelle Young for Untapped Cities offers a look back at the time Metro-North was home to a tiki-themed bar car.

This took place in 2008, and was part of an advertising campaign for Westin Hotels. Much of the decor came via large-scale stickers — as Young writes, “the interiors were plastered over with bamboo-printed decals, and sunset and palm tree backgrounds (which evolved into jungle vista later).”

There’s no word on whether the Westin promotion also included some changes to the drink menu, but one can only imagine what might have emerged.


Join America's Fastest Growing Spirits Newsletter THE SPILL. Unlock all the reviews, recipes and revelry — and get 15% off award-winning La Tierra de Acre Mezcal.