“Theme bars are just super fun,” Cory Hunt says. That’s why, for First Edition, his new East Bay venture, he and partner Javier Ortiz chose to decorate it comic book style, with a focus on villiains, which are “just more interesting,” Hunt says.
Hunt and Ortiz are no strangers to a theme, as the pair behind SF bars Jackalope and Soda Popinski’s, both of which deliver a decidedly Comic Con-flavored experience to patrons, with an emphasis on video games and nostalgia. The pair stuck with that formula for First Edition, this time with decor from artist and designer Michael Brennan that pays tribute to comic book heroes and antiheroes.
Looking at the interior, you can imagine Mr. Glass raising a glass inside First Edition, but Hunt insists that the bar will be “approachable and fun for everyone,” not just supervillains or “cocktail nerds,” Hunt says. The drinks menu is focused on the idea that there are just six types of cocktails (a theory not unlike the hypothesis that there are only a certain number of types of stories that are told again and again — arguably the business model of the graphic novels that adorn First Edition) called “root categories”: the old fashioned, martini, daiquiri, sidecar, highball, and flip.
Those drinks are offered in their classic form, a so-called “classic twist” version, and a take that’s unique to First Edition, Hunt says, creating a total of 24 available mixed drinks, as well as wine, beer, and no-ABV cocktails. Of the latter, Hunt says that he’s seen an increase for these non-alcoholic offerings in recent years, and that “what we really are is a gathering place,” and that he believes places should offer an “opportunity to drink something delicious,” regardless of ABV.
There’s also food at First Edition, from Xolo Taqueria, which abuts First Edition’s space. “We share a window and an ethernet cable,” Hunt says, so patrons can easily order from a curated menu of tacos and burritos from inside First Edition, and the food will pass through that shared window and back to the bar.
Out of everything about First Edition, however, Hunt seems most excited about opening his first business in Oakland, a city he’s lived in for about five years. The area is “so different, so authentic, and genuine,” Hunt says, with one of the tightest-knit communities he’s known. The area is “so fun, such a great community,” Hunt says. “I wouldn’t have considered any other neighborhood in Oakland.”
First Edition is open Tuesday through Saturday, from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m.