Miles Lab creates new drink honoring Elkhart's musical history


By: Marshall V. King

Marshall V. King/Flavor 574

Not every caller to Miles Lab would spark the creation of a new martini, but when “The Dinner Party Download” called, owner Mike Miles went to work.

The public radio show mixes food and drink, music and culture in an hour-long discussion each week. Like most dinner parties, you learn something along the way.

For a segment about the history of the saxophone, the show called the Elkhart bar and restaurant at 3763 E. Jackson Blvd., Elkhart, to see if a cocktail could be created to honor the instrument invented by Adolphe Sax.

Conn Instruments in Elkhart was one of the first manufacturers of saxophones, which the show called, “A kind of mutant offspring of a clarinet and a French horn.”

Brass Belle Martini
Recipe by Mike Miles

  • 1 oz. Cognac
  • 1 oz. citrus vodka
  • ½ oz. simple syrup
  • ½ oz. fresh orange juice

Featured on the June 26, 2015, episode of The Dinner Party Download.

“There was some trial and error,” Miles said of the creation process.

Customer Rob Letherman, one of the tasters at the bar, said, “The first one was not good.”

Miles picked cognac as the cocktail’s base because of the brandy’s connection to France. “The inventor was a Belgian who moved to Paris. Ask Google,” Miles said.

He added citrus vodka to honor the history of local pharmaceutical company Miles Laboratories. Miles’ ancestors founded the historic Elkhart business and at one point it was the world’s second largest manufacturer of citric acid.

The drink, served in a martini glass that Miles said approximates the shape of the instrument’s bell, is topped off with simple syrup and orange juice.

The drink is golden like a sax, but doesn’t taste brassy. The citrus comes through but the punch of cognac is nice.

After consulting a customer who was a longtime instrument maker, Miles settled on the name of the “Brass Belle Martini.” It’ll cost you $8.

The drink will go on the menu soon, but for now is available by request. Like many things at Miles Lab and in Elkhart, it’s part of the lore and story, but is also tasty.

“Dinner Party Download” airs locally from 6 to 7 p.m. Sundays on 88.1 WVPE-FM. You can also listen to the podcast of the show.

Marshall V. King is community editor for The Elkhart Truth and food columnist for Flavor 574. You can reach him at 574-296-5805,, and on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
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