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Mix Town, Rum, Mint, $5K And Stir

Here's a new Bacardi recipe: Take a small New Jersey community, add $5,000, and for half a month, you've got a locality named after a cocktail.

For the first half of May, the small, rural community of Richland will be called "Mojito," named for a drink made of rum, mint leaves, lime, sugar and club soda. Richland is a section of Buena Vista Township, near Atlantic City.

The Buena Vista Township Committee voted 5-0 on April 26 to authorize the new name after Bacardi offered to give the township $5,000 for recreation projects such as new playground equipment in public parks.

A road sign along Route 40 promoting mojitos has already been raised. And Bacardi plans to use images from Richland in advertising promotions.

"I hope this (honorary title) arouses people to drink Bacardi, a mojito," farmer Denny Dalponte, whose family farm in Richland is the main supplier of mint for Bacardi, said. "I hope the wind carries it further than just Richland."

Buena Vista Mayor Chuck Chiarello sees the renaming as a way to support the local economy, which is heavily based on agriculture.

"We have a very large farming community here, and we thought this would support it," Chiarello said.

Chiarello told the Vineland Daily Journal he and other officials first questioned residents, and received only positive feedback.

"We weighed all the facts and looked at it as something good for the farmers, good for recreation and having a very short-lived existence," Chiarello said.

Township Administrator Ron Trebing also thinks the promotion is a good deal.

"It'll improve recreation in the area," Trebing said. "Anything helps out."

A traditional Cuban drink first mixed by English pirates, mojitos have enjoyed new popularity in recent years. The drinks were requested on the HBO television series "Sex and the City" and were mentioned in the movie "Bad Boys II."

It's especially popular in the summer, probably due to its refreshing blend of mint leaves and lime, said Kristy Jenkins, a bartender at Winfield's in nearby Millville.

With a large amount of mint used in mojitos coming from Richland, New York-based Baddish Group, which runs Bacardi's marketing, decided getting the community renamed would make for a great promotion.

The idea was broached with Dalponte Farms and Buena Vista officials. Chiarello says area residents, clergy and the local Drug Alliance Commission were all consulted, and there was little worry about promoting an alcoholic drink.

"No one is against alcohol," Chiarello said. "People are against alcohol being misused, especially by people under age."