Calling comic book lovers and craft cocktail aficionados alike: There’s a new bar in Uptown Oakland that might be right up your alley.
First Edition, a comic book-themed craft cocktail bar, celebrated its grand opening on Friday. It’s the first East Bay venture from owners Cory Hunt and Javier Ortiz, who also own Jackalope in San Francisco. Both Hunt and Ortiz are pop culture experts who take more interest in the villain than the hero.
“Villains, they’re more fun than superheroes,” Hunt said. “They’re usually darker and sexier.”
The two were originally intending a villain-themed expansion of Jackalope, but when plans fell through, they headed to Uptown Oakland. The new space measures in at 4,000 square feet. Above the bar is a series of large comic book-style panels from artist and designer Michael Brennan. Speech bubble-shaped light fixtures hang from the ceiling. Brennan’s sinister-looking clown sculpture, nicknamed “Chuckles,” greets guests above the mezzanine. One of the bar’s two mezzanines features a DJ booth, while the other has a full bar, rooftop access, and plenty of space for hosting private events. Meanwhile, the rooftop offers space for events; the bar owners also hope to eventually add a projector for movie screenings.
Aside from the bar’s unique look and layout, the cocktail menu is also laid out differently from most other bars. First Edition’s beverage director, Napier Bulanan, was inspired by the James Beard award-winning book Cocktail Codex. The menu is based on the concept that all cocktails are derived from six different types of “root” cocktails: old fashioneds, martinis, daiquiris, sidecars, highballs, and flips. For each of the six cocktails, customers can order three styles: the root, a classic twist, and a First Edition original, which scale from simple to more complex. For example, the root martini features gin, dry vermouth, and lemon; the classic twist is a Manhattan made with overproof rye, sweet vermouth, Grand Marnier, angostura, and orange bitters; and the First Edition original, entitled the N.E.W. Gotham, contains Infanta Lambanog, bonal, Mr. Black Coffee, and chocolate bitters. A selection of low-ABV and nonalcoholic cocktails are also on the menu, along with an all-East Bay beer list.
Though First Edition doesn’t have its own kitchen, it shares a back wall with Xolo, the Mission-style taqueria located on Telegraph Avenue. First Edition offers an abbreviated version of Xolo’s menu, focusing on tacos and burritos with meat, pescatarian, and vegetarian options.
Though First Edition is new to the neighborhood, Hunt said he’s received nothing but support from nearby bar owners. Each bar, he said, fills a different void. Hello Stranger is great for dancing, while Bar Shiru and Here’s How offer quieter environments for cocktail sipping. Hunt hopes First Edition will be somewhere in-between, combining a laid-back, fun neighborhood bar atmosphere with the drinks you’d typically find at an upscale cocktail bar.
“It’s a pretty tight-knit community here. I think we all understand that we don’t see each other as competition,” Hunt said. “The cliché is the rising tide floats all boats, and I think that that’ll continue to be true.”
First Edition is at 1915 Broadway, Oakland, and is open Tuesday through Saturday from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m.