Prizefighter masters science of simple cocktails

Cocktails at Prizefighter in Emeryville are each mixed from just three ingredients. Photo: Risa Nye

We often get tips about new places to try from the bartenders we meet. When a couple of people mentioned Prizefighter in Emeryville, we decided to give it a try.

Located at 6702 Hollis St. near the Berkeley-Emeryville border, in what used to be known as Butchertown, Prizefighter fits right in with the industrial feel of the neighborhood. The stockyards and meat-packing plants of yesteryear were replaced by steel mills and factories, which in turn have been replaced by enterprises of a different nature today.

Behind Prizefighter’s brick exterior wall is a patio that provides seating for the overflow crowd, or for those who would rather catch the last rays of sunlight after work.

Inside, the bar area is about as stripped down and industrial as can be. The “sweet science” theme is carried out in the décor, which includes a large collection of colorful boxing gloves hanging by a chain in the back. Temperance history buffs will appreciate that the hatchet firmly attached over the bar is mounted above the message: “All nations welcome but Carrie.”


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The Daiquiri Time Out at Prizefighter. Photo: Risa Nye

Many of the patrons come to Prizefighter after work, filing in from neighboring companies along the Hollis corridor. They may come in for a beer or a glass of wine, says our bartender Patrick, but then they also check out the extensive cocktail menu and give one of them a try. Most of the drinks list three ingredients — simple, classic drinks like Moscow Mules, Bee’s Knees, the Martini, Dark and Stormy, and Daiquiri. For a group, Prizefighter offers a selection of Punch Bowls that serve 6-8. With a nod to local neighborhoods — and one in Oakland — the cocktail menu features the Butchertown (rye, Amontillado and orange liqueur) and the Temescal (rye, pineapple gum and aromatic bitters), among others.

Prizefighter offers only two well-chosen bar snacks: soft, warm pretzels, and the San Francisco classic ice cream sandwich known as It’s-It. We noticed that a group of patrons brought in several pizzas to share among themselves. (It’s fine with the owners if you want to bring in your own food, but you should also bring along plates and utensils.)

We decided to try the D.T.O., which has a history rooted in Boston. Apparently, when there was a lull at a particular Boston bar, one bartender would mix up a daiquiri and share it with the others. This is called a “Daiquiri Time Out.” The daiquiri, made from rum, lime and cane syrup, was an excellent choice for a warm evening. Three ingredients — just right. No frills necessary.

The large-screen TV in one corner drew everyone’s attention as the A’s wrapped up what amounted to two full games on the evening we visited Prizefighter. When the winning run scored, nearly everyone cheered, and then it was back to our pleasant conversation and our cocktail.

The drink: Daiquiri Time Out (D.T.O.)
To try next time: The Butchertown
The crowd: Locals after work, students, no-frills cocktail aficionados, wine- and beer-drinkers
The vibe: Fuss-free and casual
The deets: Prizefighter, 6702 Hollis St., Emeryville


Risa Nye, aka Ms. Barstool, is a freelance writer based in Oakland. She writes the blog Zero to Sixty and Beyond.

Are you a cocktail aficionado? Read previous Ms. Barstool reviews of the ParagonBoot & Shoe ServicePicànHopscotchFiveRevival, and Flora, and check Berkeleyside Nosh’s Guide to Drinking around Berkeley.

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