First Edition Is Oakland’s First Comic-Themed Bar

It’s not the first vintage-y venture for co-owners Javier Ortiz and Cory Hunt of San Francisco bar Jackalope.


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Photo by Lance Yamamoto

Its multistory, slanty-walled, soaring-ceilinged, black-paneled, 4,000-square-foot vastness hung with big bright cartoonish artworks and swooping, looping, word-balloony lights, First Edition is Uptown’s first comic-themed bar.

But it’s not the first vintage-y venture for co-owners Javier Ortiz and Cory Hunt, whose San Francisco bar Jackalope features trivia nights and sofa-sized faux antlers.

“Narrative arcs are central to both heroes and villains in comics, and there’s always the question of what happened to a hero or villain that caused them to choose their ultimate path,” Ortiz said.

He and Hunt both practiced law before switching careers.

“It is, in a sense, our origin story in this industry. I call it an ‘and then’ moment. Peter Parker was just a normal kid, and then he was bitten by a radioactive spider, and we know the rest. I like that about our own mythology, and it’s why I remain interested in comics,” he said.

From its two lofty mezzanines to its rooftop bar, from its Mad Maxian metal beams to its cool concrete floor, First Edition favors villains — best embodied by Brooklyn artist Michael Brennan’s life-size creepy clown sculpture, Chuckles.

Through a partnership with nearby Xolo, First Edition pairs tacos and burritos with a drinks menu inspired by the James Beard Award-winning book Cocktail Codex, whose bar-owning co-authors Alex Day and David Kaplan trace all cocktails back to six basic “roots,” specifically the old fashioned, martini, daiquiri, sidecar, highball, and flip.

Ortiz favors the daiquiri.

“It’s such a simple cocktail, and yet you can imbue it with such nuance and make it into a signature cocktail of your own,” he explained. “A tart daiquiri is amazing in the right hands, as is a lightly sweet daiquiri. And, quite frankly, I think it remains largely overlooked and misunderstood — like many great comic-book characters.

“People tend to think they need to have a blender to make it or that it’s a drink you only have on vacation, when the truth is that when it’s crafted by great bartender, it’s sublime in its simplicity.”

 

First Edition, 1915 Broadway, Oakland, 510-561-4454, Instagram.com/firstedition1915.

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