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Chelsea steakhouse Sophie’s has a new Soho gaff with a dark secret in its bowels. The cavernous basement was once a gym owned by the eponymous Jack, the celebrated Cockney boxing promoter who first matched up Henry Cooper with Muhammad Ali. It has now been recast as a louche, dimly lit jazz-era lounge bar with low-level seating. The place isn’t easy to find: look for an unmarked door at a street-level deli. Inside you’ll find a Peaky Blinders twilight world soundtracked by live jive and late-night DJ sets. In petrol-blue velvet swagged booths, or a separate faux-seedy blood-red saloon, soak up punches, slugs and classic and advanced Martinis. Top billing goes to whisky cocktails, Black Jack (Laphroaig, Maraschino liqueur and lime) and Coffee & Cigarettes, a knockout Woodford Reserve Manhattan that, for us, shades it on points. Snack on baba ganoush, savoury croquettes or good ol’ fish & chips.
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