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“Never was a drink more optimistically christened,” my father would say, squinting at his glass. “I don’t know,” my mother would reply, settling into a wicker chair and fanning herself with a copy of Life or the evening paper. “It makes me feel cooler just to look at it.”

Pick a summer, any summer, back in the 1960s, and you would find my parents on a shadowy screened-in porch at cocktail time, seeking relief from the heat. The subject of their routine exchange was the rum-based Cool o’ the Evening, one of 46 libations in the 1950 Charleston Receipts*, the nation’s oldest Junior League cookbook (now in its 35th printing).

With 13 drinks recipes that call for rum (including a Champagne punch from the 1890s that serves 600 to 650), it’s no wonder that Rums of Puerto Rico featured Charleston Receipts in a 1952 print advertisement, complete with the recipe for Cool o’ the Evening, a photograph of its creator, Daniel Ravenel, in an old Charleston garden, and sprightly, learned text by South Carolina historian Samuel Gaillard Stoney**. He traces the use of rum in Charleston from 1670 (the year the city was founded) to the light-bodied Puerto Rican rums being marketed “in keeping with the modern trend to less heavy food and drink,” adding, “It makes a gay cocktail or tall mixed drink and wears well.”

I can just imagine my parents chorusing, “It certainly does,” before asking me to run into the kitchen for more mint. One of my summer chores was keeping a jam jar of mint fresh and full in the icebox, and you know what? I still do. Bouquets from the mint patch at my in-laws’ house, out on Long Island, not only come in handy for iced tea and other drinks, but the leaves are lovely torn and mixed with basil for a tomato salad, or chopped with cilantro and parsley and made into a garlicky salsa verde for grilled lamb steak.

My light rum of choice for the past couple of years is a Rhum Agricole, from Martinique. Unlike the vast majority of rums, which are distilled from molasses, Rhum Agricole is distilled solely from fresh sugar-cane juice. It’s rightly extolled for its freshness and purity, but what I really like is how nuanced it is, in the manner of a well-made bourbon.

Rhum Agricole is produced in the French West Indies, primarily Martinique. In fact, the words Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée on the label signify it’s been awarded a certified geographical designation by the French authorities, just like a terroir-specific wine (Champagne) or cheese (Roquefort). You can read more about Rhum Agricole here. Or maybe just go fix yourself a drink and find a porch.

Cool o’ the Evening

From Charleston Receipts (The Junior League of Charleston, 1950)

This is the summer version of the Charleston Cup, which combines light rum with curaçao and orange juice; both recipes are from Daniel Ravenel.

For each serving:

1 sprig mint

Juice of ½ lemon

½ teaspoon sugar

2 ounces light rum

Crush mint in shaker; add other ingredients, using finely chopped ice, and shake until frost forms. Serve in chilled glasses.

* “Receipt” is an old word for “recipe,” and I’m delighted that the online Merriam-Webster still thinks so, too.

** Author of a number of books on Charleston as well as Plantations of the Carolina Low Country, Mr. Stoney was also the creator of the Lazy Man’s Old Fashioned (the secret ingredient is orange marmalade). The recipe appears directly below that for Cool o’ the Evening in Charleston Receipts.

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