yellow and green awning covers an outdoor dining space among the trees

I don’t spend a lot of time in Lebanon County. Especially working in the opposite direction, my trips to Berks County’s western neighbor are few and far between.

But we recently found ourselves in the Lebanon area with enough time to pay a visit to Mt. Gretna, and its famous ice cream parlor.

Mt. Gretna feels like a different world. It’s a secluded, quiet getaway. Except at the Jigger Shop.

Part old-time soda fountain, part fast-food restaurant, the Jigger Shop was packed with people on the Wednesday afternoon when we visited.

posters advertising performances at the Gretna Playhouse

The place has its own unique vibe  – part old-time soda fountain, part 1950s drive-in. Everything is ordered at one of the counters, ice cream to the left, food to the right.

We didn’t bother with the food (the hamburgers and fries looked rather generic from what we could see) and instead went right to the ice cream line.

At the front is counter seating for about half a dozen,

For my first time, the only real option is a namesake jigger.

large sundae in glass cup with chocolate syrup and crushed Oreos

I don’t know what came first, the name of the sundae or the name of the shop, but either way, it’s a great choice because the jigger is legit.

One of the things that makes the Jigger shop unique is that everything is made one at a time so we got to watch the construction process.

It started with scoops of French vanilla ice cream. Then came the chocolate syrup. After pouring it on top, our server took the wrong side of a spoon and used it to spread the chocolate around the glass. It was then topped with a heaping pile of whipped marshmallow, flattened on top so it could hold a spoonful of jigger nuts.

prep area for an ice cream parlor

Essentially, the jigger is a CMP sundae (chocolate, marshmallow, peanuts) with vanilla ice cream, though the jigger nuts are a little different. I think I caught hints of hazelnut and cocoa.

In any case, it was delicious. I’m not a big marshmallow fan, but I enjoyed it here. Honestly, and this may be sacrilege, but I could have done without the jigger nuts.

Julie’s sundae was more intricate and even more entertaining to watch make. The strawberry shortcake sundae started with a little bit of milk on the bottom (optional) followed by slices of shortcake. Next came three scoops of vanilla ice cream. That was topped with strawberry syrup, which was then covered in a mound of whipped cream. The whole thing was topped off with strawberries sliced to order.

oval metal bowl with an ice cream sundae topped with whipped cream and strawberries

It took a good five minutes to build, the anticipation building as I stood there with my ice cream, waiting for Julie.

Eating it took a little longer, but that’s because Julie was taking time to enjoy every bite. The shortcake had absorbed the milk and a little bit of the ice cream, making it sweet and a little wet. There was a lot more whipped cream than ice cream, but both were very good.

Like mine, it was a big hit.

Mt. Gretna is a resort of sorts so the prices are a little higher than a lot of places around here. For our two sundaes, the total was more than $15. But we also didn’t need to eat a real dinner afterward so I guess it worked out in our favor.

From Memorial Day to Labor Day, the Jigger Shop is one of Lebanon County’s coolest (pun intended) destinations.

It’s a destination in and of itself, a unique place that’s worth visiting at least once, especially if you find yourself in the neighborhood.

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