Interpol Takes Us to Their Favorite Downtown Haunts

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Interpol lead singer and guitarist Paul Banks sits in a windowless lounge in the Soho headquarters of Matador Records, his face obscured by aviator sunglasses and the brim of a black fedora. He’s joined by his bandmates, guitarist Daniel Kessler and drummer Sam Fogarino, each dressed in somber tones that, were it not for their impeccable tailoring, would make them indistinguishable from the trendy young New Yorkers sitting around the office.

“It’s erotic and creepy,” says Banks of the music video for “Lights,” a haunting track off Interpol’s new self-titled album, out this month. The video interpretation of their already pitch-black song was directed by Charlie White, who also helmed the video for their 2005 song “Evil,” which followed a puppet on his way to the hospital a er a brutal car accident. Not surprisingly, the video for “Lights” is equally twisted, featuring a pair of attractive Asian “courtesans” preparing a “doe” for pheromone-harvesting, a ritual that occurs, as the title card helpfully informs, “deep within the inner chambers of the three-horned rhinoceros beetle.”

“Charlie is obsessed with sex and death. He’s a man after my own heart,” says Banks, who recently split from his longtime girlfriend, supermodel Helena Christensen. The video is a far cry from most of the pop frippery out there—Katy Perry and her whipped cream breasts; Lady Gaga and her firework breasts—but then, so is Interpol.

Over the course of eight years and four albums, fans have watched the band evolve from post-punk revivalists to indie rock innovators, defining and re-defining their sound while sharing the stage with some of the world’s mightiest rock legends. They headlined a North American tour this past summer, and will support U2 on a spate of European gigs this month and next. Still, their latest album marks a turning point for a group that’s often compared to Manchester rock pioneers Joy Division. “We wanted to do something different from what we had done before,” says Daniel Kessler, which meant building instrumentation and bringing keyboards and melodies to the forefront.

Interpol has been based in New York since 1997, when the band first began performing together at downtown clubs like Luna Lounge. And while they could probably do what they do anywhere in the world at this point, their formative years in the city helped define them as a band. “With New York, a lot of people are affected by their first year or so,” Kessler says. “Either they run screaming and crying, or they succeed in what they’re trying to do. I could go to Uruguay and still feel the essence of New York and be inspired by the time I spent here. Once a New Yorker, always a New Yorker.”

Cienfuegos: “This is where I come to pull chicks. That’s really the main reason. And, yeah, there are good Cuban sandwiches downstairs. Upstairs, they serve exotic punches in big carafes with ladles and some of the better cocktails in the city. They have this amazing drink called Rosa Verde with watermelon and arugula. The owner [Ravi DeRossi] also runs Death & Co., which is one of the best cocktail bars in the city, along with The Bourgeois Pig, 124 Rabbit Club, and a Mexican place up the block called Mayahuel, so he’s got a little empire going on.” —Paul Banks

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Anfora: “I met [owner Joe Campanale] at a dinner party. We became friends and he’s since taught me a lot about wine. He also owns the restaurant next door, dell’anima, and L’Artusi, just a few blocks away. It feels like you’re doing something a little swanky at this wine bar, but without the pretension. You could come in wearing a pair of jeans and still have a glass of $80 Barolo. It brings this level of sophistication down to earth. I’m into white wine, so I always tell Joe ‘dry but fruity.’ They serve sandwiches, cheese plates, and stuff from very specific regions of Italy—a lot of salamis and cured meats. The prosciutto and the beef bresaola are my favorites.” —Sam Fogarino

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Rebel Rebel Records: “This is the place to go for vinyl. The owner and I have like-minded tastes. It was a shame when we lost Virgin Records in Union Square, but I would care more if we lost this one. Good record stores are a dying breed, and I think this one is the real deal.” —Paul Banks

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Matt Umanov Guitars: “I bought my first guitar, a Guild, here in 1992. I thought it was awesome at the time. The last thing I got here was a 12-string Gibson. I like the dudes who run this place.” —Paul Banks

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Cafe Gitane: “I’ve been coming here for 15 years. It’s always filled with people, but I can still find peace of mind. They have a great salad with beets, apples, and endive, and an avocado on toast that’s very tasty, too. The place is tiny, but it works—plus, it’s a nice spot to sit outdoors and catch up with someone you haven’t seen in a while. It’s a good rendezvous spot.” —Daniel Kessler

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Lord Willy’s: “I keep coming back because of the personalities who work here, and I love the shirts. They’re done with classic English tailoring. The colors are always playful, almost post-dandyish. They’re from an era that’s not around anymore. The shirts fit so well that I don’t have to wear them with a tie to make them look nice. You can dress them up as much or as little as you want.” —Paul Banks

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Freemans Sporting Club: “There’s an adjacent restaurant, Freemans, which I went to before I knew about this place. As we were leaving, I walked out onto Rivington Street, and I was like, What’s this? I walked in, and I thought, is is probably the coolest clothing store I’ve ever been in. And there’s a barbershop, too? I’ve known Shorty, my barber, for the better part of 12 years, and I turn around and he’s cutting hair here! We hadn’t seen each other in a while because I had been touring, but that brought me back here. I like the whole concept of the men’s club. Hemingway would have shopped here. I got this brown leather belt, this green shirt, and a couple of winter pieces. This stuff is going to endure for decades. I’ll come here when I’m 70 years old and it will feel just as natural as it does now. —Sam Fogarino

Photography by Brooke Nipar

Sunday Funday Dinner Plans

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Sunday Fundays tend to consist of drinking in a moderate-to-heavy fashion with a large group in tow. There are usually group activities—spontaneous and planned—and eventually everyone has to eat to soak up some of the alcohol. More often than not, these meals are as much messy, physical challenges as 2pm beer pong. For example: Last evening, my group ended up at The Hideaway in Tribeca for their excellent Blue Crab Special. More on crab feasting and other Funday-friendly options after the jump.

There’s a special place in my heart for Chesapeake Bay blue crabs, and until this past weekend, I was unaware that such crab fests were even possible in New York. Now I’m hooked. Sundays and Mondays through Labor Day, The Hideaway is offering dozens of Maryland blue crabs at market-price, coated in Old Bay, served on paper tablecloths. It’s good sloppy fun for semi-adventurous eaters. Only one member of our 9-person group gave up and ordered a burger.

The Bourgeois Pig in the East Village serves fondue year-round for a play-with-your-food kind of evening. To keep with the seafood theme, I recommend the Bisque Fondue with shrimp and crab in a lobster broth. It’s dark and cool, and a great place to cool off and sober up, or just keep drinking—the Violetta Champagne Cocktail is the definition of refreshing.

Shabu-Shabu 70 on the Upper East Side is a memorable way to end a stress-free Sunday. Start out with shareable sushi plates and move on to cook-your-own meat, veggies, and noodles in the hot pot of boiling broth. Try not to disturb Upper East Siders too much.

Top 10 Spots for a First Date

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Variety is key when you are testing the waters of love and lust. To some, love is motivated by how fat one’s pocketbook is. To others, it’s based on where one is able to get a reservation at peak time on a Friday night. Whether your leading lady is a tastemaker with a tiny appetite, or your gent is a sucker for the sauce, there’s a hotspot that’s all the bang for your buck, and a watering hole that may just lead to a bang.

The Little Owl (New York) – Small hotspot where you can view the West Village through rose-colored window panes. A savvy choice for a date in the know, but let your date know you chose it for the greenmarket menu. Swoon. ● Mistral (Los Angeles) – Intimate space, low lighting, the smell of French cuisine, and love is in the air. Couples relish the dark corners. A vast wine list and pared-down menu means easy first date decision-making. Opt for fries over the spinach side; the soft light helps you seem sexy, but it will do nothing for a green tooth.

Nemo (Miami) – Don’t waste this space on someone you’re lukewarm for. Rack up first-impression points with the serious atmosphere at work here. Not too pretentious, but tasty and hip: She just might find a way to thank you after the meal. ● The Bourgeois Pig (New York) – A jump-off point for daters to test the waters before committing to a bite to eat, though perfect as a post-dinner stop when things are going well. Champers, chocolate, cheese make eating sexy as hell. ● Smith & Wollensky (Miami) – Fab first date spot even if your date isn’t a carnivore. For light fare, opt for the cocktail/oyster combo — though the view is the only aphrodisiac needed. Great food, stiff drinks, and unrivaled panoramas of the ocean and the Miami skyline. ● Casa Tua (Miami) -There’s the intimate speakeasy feel that helps to make an impression, especially if your date is young and impressionable. Lamps hang from banyan trees in the garden, inviting atmosphere is conductive to great conversation and even better make-out sessions. Plead your first-date case to the members-only bouncer and see if you can’t stretch out the evening. ● Casa La Femme (New York) – If you’re the dating type that needs a few props, this all-inclusive date spot is loaded with shiny distractions. Tent city flaunts belly-dancing beauties and unbeatable signature cocktails to spice things up. Décor is richly detailed, bearing a genuine elegance to mask the cliché sexiness of it all. ● Little Door (Los Angeles) – Deserving of its reputation as THE place to go on a date — whether you speak fluent or just cinematic French, mais oui. The courtyard will help you fall in love, the sexy candlelight will make you fall in lust, and the extensive drink list will take care of anything in between. ● Mayahuel (New York) – The goddess of agave may be on your side for a modern-day Spanish inquisition. Speakeasy vibe with serious, sexy decor, and food to match. Creative cocktails will impress mixology minors; opt for small, shareable plates and cozy up in a carved-out booth. ● August (New York) – For a date of the handholding variety, turn to this claustrophobic cave restaurant. In the fall, intimate garden and sweater weather inspire premature cuddling, which could lead to other things more mature. ● Bowery Hotel (New York) – Pretend you’re somebody as you whisk your date through the golden doors propped open by smiling bellhops. Good for blind dates, it’s a cozy spot where you can get closer, or direct your attention to Cameron Diaz getting blitzed at the bar. Swill red wine on vintage chairs, surrounded by downtown “it” people. It’s all very very, even if your date is very boring.

New York: Top 10 Summer Cocktails

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Cold cocktails and summer go together. Whether you’re sitting by the beach or running from your office at the stroke of five to cool down at the nearest bar, the only question is: what is the most rockin,’ balls-to-the-wall, delicious, sunshine-inspired beverages out there? This list will get you started on a summer journey through NYC’s nooks and crannies, keeping your taste buds tantalized through at least October 1.

● Wailer’s Island Punch @ The Bourgeois Pig (East Village) – You don’t need to fly to Jamaica to feel like you are on an island listening to Bob Marley and his Wailers. All you need do is head to the East Village, order the Wailer’s Island Punch, and you will assuredly hear steel drums by your second glass. The muddled raspberries, Pedro Ximenez sherry, pineapple juice, lime, and Pol Roger champagne mixtures will have you jammin.’

● Beet Sangria @ Tailor (Soho) – Any chance to infuse vegetables into your liquor is healthy! I tend to even harbor the notion that I am doing some good to that bikini body by sipping on the Beet Sangria made from red wine, brandy, Triple Sec, orange juice, beet juice, and orange salt. The red of the beets brings out the red of the wine — or vice versa — and makes for a bold-colored, tasty treat. Another veggietail perfect for summer is the Bell Pepper Margarita; it’s fiery and makes you feel like you’ve traveled south of the border, or is that just the blazing sun on the Manhattan concrete? Either way, these drinks will simultaneously heat you up and cool you off.

● The Myra Breckinridge @ Death & Co (East Village) – The cocktails are crafted with such care, detail, and finesse at this cool speakeasy that you ultimately cannot choose wrong. For the piping-hot months of July, August, and I’ll throw in September for good measure, try one of the concoctions from the “Indian Summer” menu. The “Myra Breckinridge” features Laphroaig single-malt scotch, absinthe, fresh lime juice, and sugarcane syrup. And to add a little rum to your punch, try the “Gantt’s Tomb,” consisting of Goslings rum, Rittenhouse rye, El Dorado 151-proof rum, fresh pineapple, orange and lemon juice, and Allspice Dram. So many ingredients, so little time to try them all.

● Caipirinha @ Paladar (Lower East Side) – Nothing says summer like a day of sipping on caipirinhas. The mint and lime are muddled to perfection at this Latino digs on Ludlow. Drinks are half price from 4-7pm, so might I suggest starting while the sun is still shining high? Those pestering sweat beads on your brow will dissipate in no time.

● Basil 8 @ Table 8 (East Village) – The Cooper Square Hotel restaurant is aesthetically pleasing, uber-trendy and so hot right now. The “Basil 8” is made with Ketel One vodka, white grapes, basil, lime juice, and ginger ale. White grapes are a staple fruit of summer, and putting them into a cocktail will keep you stapled to the bar.

● Frozen Mojito @ Cabanas at the Maritime Hotel (Chelsea) – It’s a slushy with alcohol … need I say more? This drink embodies summer, as does the fact that you will be enjoying it on a tremendous rooftop. Stargazing is also a plus, and ya’ll know I am not talking about the stars in the sky.

● Bittersweet Mimosa @ The Stanton Social (Lower East Side) – Brings bravado to your everyday mimosa. Yes, I like to have one every day. It is composed of Moscato d’Asti, Campari, and fresh-squeezed orange juice. Flavorful, refreshing, and oh-so yummy. Be careful of the midafternoon hangover. Go sleep it off on the beach; just don’t drive there.

● The Sun and Moon @ Haven (Midtown East) – Made with U’luvka vodka, fresh pineapple juice, lime juice, and muddled sage. A simple, amiable way to start drinking by day and keep right on until the moonlight. There are also $13 pitchers of a featured mixed drinks served daily during happy hour, plus burlesque parties every Thursday starting at 9pm with an open bar from 9-10pm. Summertime cocktails and nipple tassels, anyone?

● Dirty Martini @ Angel’s Share (East Village) – Tucked away above a Japanese restaurant, this “no standing allowed” lounge demands courtesy and etiquette; you’ll never find yourself cramped with a bunch of sweaty folks just off the hot streets, as you must be in a chair to drink at this establishment. No more chairs means you have to wait, but yummy cocktails come to those who do. The vodka or gin (depending on which tickles your fancy) come with the olive juice on the side, so you can dirty it up to taste. Combined with the vibe, the conversation gets better with each beverage, and so does your date’s appearance.

● Gold Cup Mint Julep @ Hotel Griffou (Greenwich Village) – OK, it’s just a mint julep served in a gold cup. But this place is so brand spanking new and trendy, and who doesn’t love a classic mint julep in the summertime? The gold cup is just a bonus.