Macdonald Randolph Hotel, Oxford, Oxfordshire, OX1 2LN, United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0)1865 256 400
Website: View bar's website
Hours: daily 10am until ‘late’
Style: Hotel bar
Recommended for: Cocktails
Price guide: High-end
Food: Bar nibbles
Owned by: Macdonald Hotels & Resorts
Images By: diffordsguide.com
The Morse bar is named after a once-famous TV detective show set in Oxford. Several scenes were shot here and its wood-panelled walls are peppered with photographs of the late actor that played Morse.
Given that the show has been off air since 2000, this might all seem rather incongruous in 2011- you'd think Oxford's premier five-star hotel might be influenced by the city's 1000-year-old educational tradition. Worry not, as the ornate cornices, arched ceiling, stunning chandeliers and stone fireplace make this a memorable drinking environment anyway.
The menu has a clear historical bias: the opening page gives a potted history of the cocktail from the 1800s to the present day and chapters include 'The End of Prohibition and the Jazz Age: 1930-1959' and 'The Fall and Renaissance of the Cocktail: 1960-1989'.
The back-bar is small - whisky dominates, if anything - but expect real silver service and old-school finesse by uniformed bartenders, serving up first-rate drinks in vintage glassware with lovely garnishes, as epitomised by the house champagne cocktail, which uses calvados, not cognac, and comes with lemon zest wound round the stem of your glass. Expect American tourists with big cameras or little old ladies as company.