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Ice Age

With Hampton Ice, cube curator Albert Vigneau wants to make your cocktails cooler 

Photography by Jeremy Garretson

It’s your first “welcome warm weather” house party of the year. You’re expecting guests to arrive in less than an hour. Your kitchen table is packed full of plates containing all sorts of fabulous finger food. The windows are open, letting in a soft, cool, slightly floral breeze and music from your favorite band is lightly playing in the background. Your bar is packed to the gills, as you’ve carefully curated beverage options to satisfy any and all sorts of drinkers. But your ice? It’s one sad sack.

(Photo credit: Jeremy Garretson)

Until recently, the only option available was to try to stock up from your own freezer or head to your local convenience store or a gas station for a minuscule five-pound bag — sure to be gone in an instant. But worse, with all the effort you put into your shindig’s glorious spread (including that mountainous, ice-packed pile of shrimp cocktail), you’re now stuck with cubes that are anything but appealing: cloudy, irregularly shaped and so stuck together that getting them to fit into a glass properly is a chore in itself. Maybe they even don’t smell so good. 

A process using reverse osmosis and freezing from the inside out creates HI’s super-clear cubes. (Photo credit: Jeremy Garretson)

This exact situation was an all too familiar story for Hampton Ice owner and founder Albert Vigneau, for whom you might say the art of ice is a cold calling. Since starting his Southampton-based clear-as-crystal ice manufacturing and distribution service in the summer of 2022, Vigneau has been bringing clarity to the Hamptons party scene — and not a cocktail too soon.

Chill skill

Vigneau himself seems like a pretty cool cat. With laid back charm (his come-along-for-the-cool-ride Instagram videos are ever punctuated by his trademark tagline, “Hampton Ice! What a life! Ya-ew-ah-shew-ah!”) and fun sense of fashion, you probably wouldn’t have guessed he was a financier for 20 years, serving as a partner in a health care hedge fund for the better part of a decade. He’s wearing a bright blue winter coat and shiny, almost bell-bottomy pants. Inside his office there’s a disco ball, a fish tank with a turtle named Michaelangelo and a plush, worn-in red velvet couch.

(Photo credit: Jeremy Garretson)

Originally from Narragansett, R.I., Vigneau was accustomed to using the plentiful ice houses located in his beachy hometown to load up countless coolers and containers for all his cool-down needs. Upon arriving in the Hamptons nearly 15 years ago, he quickly noticed that not only was the area seriously lacking any sort of consistently good, quality ice, finding somewhere to procure it was a problem as well. 

“I never understood why there was not a Hamptons-style brand of ice,” he says. “There’s a brand of everything in the world these days. And it may not be obvious, but ice is something that is always needed.”

His innate love of entertaining was the original spark for his idea to bring an exclusively made-in-the Hamptons ice business to the East End. “I’m really great with numbers, so I decided to monetize my lifestyle,” he says. For the Montauk resident, ice was something he couldn’t get enough of. 

“I host a lot of events and a ton of parties, and because I grew up in a place where it was always so readily available, I kind of got thrown for a loop when I realized there was no ice here in the Hamptons. I found myself constantly screaming about ice. It was just super inconvenient.”

So, with the help of a friend, he fixed it. 

(Photo credit: Jeremy Garretson)

Joining forces with Nicholas Vigliarolo, owner of the Montauk-born Hamptons Quality Heating and Cooling, the pair was able to set up shop on Mariner Drive, just south of Montauk Highway off David Whites Lane, in the space where the former Berkoski ice factory used to be. For decades, the Berkoskis had a firm hold on the local ice business; that is, until 2011, when proprietor Bill Berkoski died suddenly and the family business was soon sold to the significantly larger Nuzzolese Bros. Ice, headquartered in Hicksville.

A closer competitor for Hampton Ice is Long Island Ice & Fuel, located on Main Street in Riverhead and in business since before the turn of the last century.

“They have the market; it’s their ice you’re seeing at the gas stations,” Vigneau says of Long Island Ice, “but I think they kind of have an archaic nature to their industry. I felt like I could provide a better service.”

Clearing the way

After refurbishing the water pipes and replacing the ice-making equipment, production started this past July, with the help of a small team of about a half-dozen. Using a 10-ton ice machine, tap water is filtered with a reverse osmosis process and then sanitized with UV light. Formed in layers, starting from the bottom up, the result is crystal clear and totally cloud-free — which, if you’re really making the effort to create gorgeous cocktails, is part and parcel to the final product. 

Each batch the machine produces is 400 pounds. The entire production and freezing process takes about 20 minutes. The ice is then moved down an automated conveyor belt, bagged and stored in one of two 2,000-square-foot cooling rooms. The

is available for pickup at reduced wholesale prices or delivered for free.

Sold predominantly by weight, the picture-perfect ice products include cubes, crushed ice, spheres, squares, spears, pebbles and blocks. 

Industrial-size ice machines that produce 600, 1,200 or 1,500 pounds per batch are available for purchase and/or rent. Right now, Vigneau’s got 15 sky-blue freezers at locations scattered around the Hamptons between Montauk and Hampton Bays, all bearing his friendly HI logo. His ice products and services can be found at several restaurants, too, like Surf Lodge and Rooted in Montauk, Le Bilboquet in Sag Harbor and SíSí in Springs. 

(Photo credit: Jeremy Garretson)

“Our bread and butter are the caterers out here,” he adds, noting they tend to use ice sold in eight-, 20- and 50-pound bags. In addition to the countless weddings and private parties he provided ice for this past year, Vigneau’s products also appeared at everything from events for the Ellen Hermanson Foundation and Wellness Wonderland to parties honoring local firefighter and police forces and opening receptions at art galleries in Montauk. He also makes dry ice, simply frozen carbon dioxide, which is perfect for elevated cocktail experiences and food freshness. He’s also done a collaboration with Patron tequila, providing ice sculptures and ice luges, and recently partnered with Ice Barrel, a cold therapy training tool that offers an easy way to bring ice baths to local wellness establishments.

“We’ve definitely made some noise,” he quips, believing this to be the year that he really gains some serious momentum.

“Specialty ice matters now, more than ever, since everything is ‘Instagrammable’,” he says. “I’m about a million and half [dollars] in, but now that we’re up and running, I think the demand will be there. If I cared about money, I would have stayed in finance. I wanted to do something I love. That’s kind of what it’s all about, isn’t it?”