Cheers! A Toast to the Cocktail

cocktail parties
This story was written by CBS News producer Jack Renaud.
Thousands of people lined up at New York's Public Library and they were not there to return overdue books.

They came instead to toast a very special guest - the cocktail.

Part fashion show, part performance art, this was the first annual Manhattan Cocktail Classic. 25,000 cocktails, shaken and stirred were served to more than 2,000 fans on hand.

New York Hospitality maven Leslie Townsend founded the Classic to embrace the rebirth of this liquid art form.

"New York City has a festival for everything and the fact that it didn't have a festival for the cocktail is downright absurd," Townsend, said.

From the picture perfect martini, to a frozen mango and guava slushy with floral garnish, there was something for every taste.

Mixologist Mike Martensen says folks are learning to "drink outside the box."

"You always want to give the consumer what they want, so let them have their rum and Coke.

"But if you give a taste of something different, outside the box, they're not going to drink rum and Coke anymore," he said.

Which is why education was also the menu - more than 60 seminars at 31 New York bars and restaurants, teaching barflies everything from the history of tequila, to the art of nosing one's cognac.

And once the hangover subsides, planning will begin in earnest for next year's Classic.

Until then, class dismissed.

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