Best no-nonsense bartender

Marta Gurr at Henry’s Lounge

Photo by ryan donahue

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At laid-back downtown dive bar Henry's Lounge, Marta Gurr will charm the pimento out of your martini's olive.

Gurr says she’s seen—and served—it all during her long and colorful career behind the counter. “You have to realize, I’ve been doing this 56 years this October,” she told SN&R. “I’ve worked everything from private clubs to dive bars to hotels in all the years.”

She remembers when she started: Vodka had achieved hipster status on the coattails of Ian Fleming’s 007 novels and films. These days, she takes good care of her regulars, many of whom live in the single-room-occupancy hotels near Henry’s.

“Having regulars is definitely important,” she said, gesturing to a patron who goes by Buzz. “Especially one who likes to straighten the chairs and stools, and clean my tables for me.” Buzz smiled and nodded at Gurr, thanking her for warm hospitality and a ginger ale.

Early in her career behind the bar, she regularly served bigwigs, including legendary San Francisco Chronicle columnist Charles McCabe at Gino and Carlo. “He’d have a Rainier ale, write the column [and] grab a cab to go to work,” she recalled, “and don’t anybody dare sit in [his regular] stool at 9 o’clock in the morning!”

After all these years, Gurr said she’s now ready to write her own memoir. “It would be called Last Night, and Again This Morning: Same Old Bullshit, Different Stool.”

Indeed, Gurr boasts very little patience for patrons of the microbrew, craft-cocktail and wine-snob scene. “I ask them if they’d like to throw up in Technicolor, or if they’d really like to have an enjoyable drink.” 1117 Ninth Street, (916) 446-0739.