The Erin Rose is one of my favorite French Quarter bars, and when I tell people this, they assume I am finishing my nights there, because while it’s not a twenty-four-hour bar, the Rose (as fans call it) keeps late hours. But for me, I prefer day-drinking there, before the crowds come, when the bar is a lovely mixture of tourists, locals, and neighbors, all coming to start their day with a drink.
The Rose opens every day at 10 a.m. As bartender Rhiannon Enlil has observed about that opening time: No one has been drinking here through the night. Everyone starts from Good morning!’ Most begin with the Rose’s Wake Up and Live specials. I’m partial to the Irish Coffee, either frozen or hot depending on the weather. The prices allow you to be magnanimous, buying a round or two for anyone who came with you. But the Rose is also a good place to go have a drink alone. Enlil is a great host, casually introducing patrons to each other. Perhaps a local patron has restaurant recommendations for the tourist sitting nearby. Perhaps another local gets a recommendation for a plumber, while another has a quick nip before running errands. Enlil enjoys the variety of folks who come through the door, and slower mornings allow her to visit with each of them It’s that welcoming ease that most characterizes the Rose. Owner Angie Koehlar puts it succinctly: She’s twenty-five feet off Bourbon Street, but you’d never know it. You can walk in and feel like you can settle down and be at peace.
The Erin Rose with its delighful, eclectic decor When I spoke with Koehlar, something stuck out from our conversation: She constantly referred to the Erin Rose as she, as in, She was born a long time ago, and, She became ours fifteen years ago. Both Enlil and Koehlar, and frankly the entire staff of the Rose, think of the bar as this living, breathing entity. Not a place where you party, but someone who parties with you. Not a place to escape to, but someone who offers you comfort. And this attitude toward to the Rose seems to spring from its original owner, Jim Monaghan, who also ran Molly’s at the Market. Koehlar credits Monaghan with teaching her how to listen to customers, how to pay attention to what they needed, and how to shape the bar to offer that. The Rose has lived up to that goal. Angie notes that when Jim passed on and the bar became theirs, It was like we just had a child. She became our baby. For many years, the Koehlars had to stay up late with the Rose, just like you do with an infant, but now,
She tells us: Mom and Dad, I got this. Why don’t you go sit down and have a drink.’ As Koehlar says with pride, She is a grown woman; she’s a beauty.