I’m the first to admit that Joy Division isn’t the easiest music to get into – they sing about epileptic seizures, Ian Curtis (lead singer) committed suicide after their first album, and their music is always cast in darkness and depression. It’s rough and the complete opposite of glam-rock, a style contemporary with their post-punk one. However, after drinking their gin cocktail, you will be a post-punk convert and wail the lyrics to Love Will Tear Us Apart overnight.

Joy Division Background

Mackenzie Patel

“When the routine bites hard

And ambitions are low

And the resentment rides high

But emotions won’t grow”

- Love Will Tear Us Apart

Although most people are unaware of Joy Division, the lyrics above are an example of the band’s poetry and breadth. Hailing from Macclesfield, England, they were one of the English bands that formed after the Sex Pistols stormed Manchester in 1976. Originally named “Warsaw”, they switched to the name "Joy Division" and recorded their first album, Unknown Pleasures, in 1979.

They’re not dubbed the “fathers of Goth” for nothing – Ian’s baritone voice comes straight out of a nightmare and his dance resembles a seizure or exorcism. But despite their unhappy ending, Joy Division changed the course of punk history and gave us sounds of feeling, desperation, and love. Anton Corbijn even directed a film, Control, about Ian Curtis’ life and suicide – it’s two hours of black+white storytelling, and it’s a great introduction to Joy Division’s formation and influences. 

Joy Division Cocktail

Death & Co, a cocktail lounge in NYC, came up with a Joy Division drink that is both pearly and potent. I adapted the recipe to a college budget (no $60 Cointreau for me) and ditched my usual gin and tonic for this gin and absinthe mixture.

This drink is a shot to the head – literally. With Closer, Joy Division’s second album, playing on the turntable, I was taken to the industrial Manchester of the 70s. Here is my adaptation of this post-punk cocktail; it’s pared down and easy, but it’ll bring you “unknown pleasures” in no time: 

The Joy Division

  • Prep Time:5 mins
  • Cook Time:0
  • Total Time:5 mins
  • Servings:1
  • Easy


  • 2 shots Beefeater Gin
  • 1 shot Vermouth
  • half shot Mr. Stack’s orange-flavored Triple Sec
  • 4 teaspoons Absinthe
Mackenzie Patel
  • Step 1

    Fill a glass with ice and mix all the ingredients together. Stir, do not shake.

    Mackenzie Patel
  • Step 2

    Strain the liquid out into a coupe (or other shallow) glass.

    water, beer, iced water, ice, glass, water cup
    Jocelyn Hsu
  • Step 3

    Sip responsibly!

    Mackenzie Patel

If I didn’t share this drink with another person, I would’ve been depressed and plastered. The danger is in the mixers – they all contain alcohol. The drink had an iridescent glow and reminded me of a black pearl or thoughts in Dumbledore’s pensieve.

If the glowing effect was subtle, the flavor definitely wasn’t: the absinthe gave the drink a black licorice overtone while the other ingredients, triple sec and vermouth, added a bitter, citrus taste. However, even though the drink should’ve tasted strong, it went down smoothly and was 100% effective. 

Legacy of Joy Division

I’m attracted to Joy Division’s style because it’s so raw and unapologetic – and yes, some people might label that as "gloomy", but I prefer to see the talent behind it. Ian Curtis was married at 19, a father at 21, and an epileptic at 22, yet he still produced extraordinary lyrics and worked as a bureaucrat.

After he committed suicide in May of 1980, the remaining members of Joy Division formed New Order, a synth-pop band that is still touring (their lead singer, Bernard Sumner, just turned 63!) People say it was Ian’s suicide that cemented Joy Division's fame, but I disagree; they were just plain brilliant. And this cocktail, as powerful as Curtis’ words, is no different.

“But if you could just see the beauty

These things I could never describe

These pleasures a wayward distraction

This is my one lucky prize.”

- Isolation