A shot and a beer isn't an obvious pairing to highlight bartender creativity in a cocktail menu — and no, we're never, ever going to count a drink where a shot glass gets dropped into a pint of beer. But the Oaxacan Standoff ($6) at Emeryville's new cocktail bar, Prizefighter, does just that.
An order comes with a can of Tecate, a copita (half-shot) of Del Maguey Vida mezcal, and a choice of one of three house-made sangritas that are some of the best in the Bay Area: classic red (tomato, citrus, peppers) with a dried-pepper kick that we enjoyed best with the beer; a tropical green (pineapple, mint, jalapeño) that multiplies the earthy sweetness of the mezcal; and purple (pomegranate, salt, habañero) with a spice route quality redolent of North Africa. Each sip cleanses and changes the flavors of the beer and mezcal, but more than that, the sangrita complements the pair perfectly.
While it's true that sangrita may not be the traditional accompaniment to mezcal in Oaxaca, where you're typically served orange wedges with sal de gusano (roasted and ground dried agave worms and chiles mixed with salt), the combo works so well you won't miss the grubs.