50 YEARS ON THE JOB
Bragging rights: Female bartender might be Pa.’s first ‘From the old days’: Regulars to reunite for celebration
you’ve stopped by for a drink at Coletti’s Town Tavern anytime in the last half century there’s a good chance the person who poured it and served it to you was Elsie Jaggers.
The diminutive, easygoing woman has been working at Coletti’s since 1966, when she started out as a cook because a woman wasn’t allowed to mix drinks in Pennsylvania at the time, unless she was the wife or daughter of the saloon proprietor.
The successful post-World War II efforts by male-only bartenders’ unions to establish state laws banning women from behind the bar were revoked in Pennsylvania in 1968, giving Jaggers entry onto the brave new frontier of bar keeping.
And now she’s been the resident mixologist at Coletti’s from the era of Richard Nixon to Donald Trump, and counting.
Jaggers wasn’t exactly keen on earning her notoriety as a trailblazer in the late ’60s. Her motivation to tend bar came from her boss, who was only too happy to provide immediate on-the-job training.
“Charlie, the owner, put me right in behind the bar making drinks because he needed a bartender,” Jaggers recalled. “He’d say, ‘Go make me a martini, make me a Manhattan,’ and that’s how I learned how to mix drinks.”
The demand has changed dramatically since then. There’s not a lot of call for Jaggers to razzle-dazzle patrons with much jig-
Elsie Jaggers serves up a Coors Lite to Coletti’s Town Tavern owner Sam Ngov as customer John Nelk looks on.