Glass visits Soho’s new speakeasy

JACK Solomons, the legendary boxing promoter who brought Muhammad Ali to Wembley Stadium with Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton watching ringside, now has a Soho speakeasy to carry on his starry legacy. The boxing gym that doubled as his office and training ground for his prize fighters in the 1940s and ‘50s has been transformed into a swanky underground bar.

Pink oneA cocktail at Jack Solomons

Glass attended the launch, intrigued by the colourful history of this East End legend who began life as a fishmonger and became a promoter of over 26 world title fights. The intrigue began with a secret entrance masquerading as an after-hours street deli. We identified it by the crowd of suited and booted gathered around the door, before descending a winding staircase to emerge in a surprisingly cavernous underground bar.

With pewter bar tops, plush velvet seats and red velvet walls, it smacks of old glamour and boozy sociability. There are even curtained nooks perfect for sipping whiskey while making world-conquering plans a la Mr Solomons, with the tinkle of a live jazz band in the background.

While the boxing rings and punching bags may have long disappeared, the spirit of Jack Solomons lives on in the whiskey-inclined cocktail menu. We tried the Coffee and Cigarettes and the Yorkshire Lady. Made of whisky, vanilla liqueur, vermouth, chocolate bitters and more whisky, the former was a definite heavy hitter. I’m sure Solomons, as a Scotch man himself, would have approved. The Yorkshire Lady, a concoction of tea-infused gin, lavender syrup and lemon, was the perfect accompaniment to lighten the mood. While we did not test small plates, they sound just as interesting, with Crab Croquettes sitting alongside Rocky’s Fish and Chips in a nod to his original vocation.

Black jackThe Black Jack

With live bands, DJs and special one-off events promised for the upcoming year, Jack Solomons is undoubtedly an exciting new addition to the Soho social scene.

by Lucy Wai

Jack Solomons Club, 41 Great Windmill Street, London, W1D 7NB