Last week, we gave some thought to the idea of packaging the essence of Nashville in a box — how we’d choose to send a piece of home to folks we love during the holiday season.
We realized that our thinking was split: Would we want to showcase the quintessential, classic Nashville, or the growing, fast-changing Nashville of right now? Ultimately, we decided on both.
Our picks for a quintessentially Nashville box are here. Below, we’ve rounded up items that we think belong in a gift box that encapsulates what some folks call “New Nashville” — a city that’s growing and changing, but striving to keep a strong grasp of tradition, too.
A Nashville Now gift box
The music scene in Nashville has been exceptional and exceptionally diverse for a long, long time. But that fact spread further and wider once Jack White and Third Man Records set up shop here. The label seems to do creative and cool stuff nonstop, and that’s certainly a Nashville-now thing to do. We love the fact that they made TMR playing cards, so you can give someone their own Jack White of Spades, Jack White of Clubs… ($10 from Third Man Records)
You know those “I Believe in Nashville” murals around town that’ve become selfie backdrops for locals and tourists alike? East Nashville business DCXV is responsible, and their artful take on civic pride is as fun as it is successful, and as Nashville-today as it gets. You could snag an “I Believe in Nashville” print on a T-shirt, but we’re partial to these 12×19-inch “Stay Tuned” prints — it’s a giftable version of the cool and colorful mural you’ll see on Main Street in East Nashville, on the side of Center 615. ($20 via DCXV)
If you’re a fan of fancy cocktails, Nashville in 2015 is a fantastic place to be. That’s due at least in part to the work of PourTaste, a husband-wife team that’s designed cocktail menus for restaurants from East Nashville to Franklin (Gray’s on Main, Two Ten Jack, Little Octopus). Wanna show off Nashville cocktail culture to a loved one? PourTaste created this tonic with earthy and citrus-y goodness — all your giftee needs to do is add a spirit, ice and soda water, and enjoy. ($19.99 via PourTaste)
Few things are as quintessentially Nashville as Hot Chicken; few things are as Nashville-now as launching your own business to bring the fiery flavor of Hot Chicken to kitchens across the land. An enterprising East Nashville neighbor, defeated by the mobbed madness that is the annual Hot Chicken Festival, responded not by whining, but by getting creative, and developing the recipe for Coop’s Hot Chicken Paste. He and a friend teamed up to launch the company, and here we are: a paste that’ll let you send the hurts-so-good experience far and wide. ($11 at various locations in and out of Nashville, and through various online outlets, including The Bitter Southerner)
If Goo Goo Clusters are the unofficial official, quintessentially Nashville candy, Bang Candy’s creations are, we think, a perfect sugar-y encapsulation of modern Nashville: a mix of tradition and vibrant creativity. Take, for example, the Marathon Village candy-makers’ takes on chocolate bark: all-natural, sweet and silky/crunchy, but with twists you’d never expect. Their Firecracker Bark has white chocolate, hot spices and popping candy, for a bite and a burst. Pretty cool. ($25, via Bang Candy)
We’re having our growing pains, as Nashville’s population booms and the city (and residents) struggle to keep comfortable pace. The conversation about how best to navigate this growth isn’t always easy, but it’s important, and it’s ongoing. And sometimes a little levity helps keep it less contentious. Which is part of why we love this T-shirt from 12th & Broad: the Nashville skyline in 2015, flecked with almost as many cranes as buildings, captured with a wink on combed cotton. ($25 from 12th & Broad)
There are our picks — any Nashville Now items you think belong? Tell us in the comments, or on Facebook!