You can’t think of Dolly Parton without picturing her trademark blond coif and the ostentatious pageantry of her rhinestone gowns. Her resonate, Tennessee-mountain drawl and that great, ribald laugh. Her humble, often self-deprecating humor. The lyrics of her album title track White Limozeen sum her up rather succinctly:
Now she’s really ridin’ high
She’s a woman of the world
But deep inside she never changed
She’s the same old down home girl
The same could be said of White Limozeen, the rooftop bar at the Graduate Nashville hotel modeled after the singer’s unique style and personality and named for her hit album and song. Parton has no stake in the place—and has yet to visit or comment—but the homage focuses on that wonderous, self-effacing grandeur.
“We wanted an approachable space that would also make you feel super fancy,” says Marc Rose, a cofounder and partner in Call Mom, the Los Angeles–based hospitality firm that helped create the space. “A place where you could eat caviar—then spill it on your shirt, and shrug it off,” he continues, with a laugh. “The moment you step off the elevator, you are literally coming to the roof. Then we take that moment over-the-top.”
What he means: The design marries moments of elegance—an onyx bar, trimmed in brass, curving beneath a cascading chandelier—with tacky fun: pink, crushed-velvet chairs come trimmed in fringe, and outside, hot pink umbrellas cast shade around a petite swimming pool, where a crazy, enormous bust of Parton’s head, sculpted from pale-pink chicken wire, awaits.
As for refreshments, “I think our Champagne Jell-O shots are the drink that best encapsulates our idea of high-class meeting approachable fun,” Rose says. On a recent visit, we ordered a round, which arrived at our table in shimmery, cupcake-style wrappers. Each shot gets molded into a tiny square and sprinkled with culinary crystals (consider it mixology’s answer to Pop Rocks).
“The Champagne Jell-O shots were originally created by opening bartender Demi Natoli, and have had a little tweaking by the current team, under bar lead Zach West,” Rose continues. “We opened mid-pandemic. It was a time when people wanted to celebrate something. Anything. Champagne is this high-class drink made specifically for important, opulent celebrations. Jell-O shots are for those all-night college parties. This place, and this year, demanded that moment.”
I expected a return to college; that memorable assault of Costco vodka and faux strawberry Jell-O shots are known for everywhere. Yet, there isn’t actually any flavored Jell-O in the recipe: Here, plain gelatin makes way for a graceful burst of Champagne. The little crystals crackled on my tongue. The delicate gelatin melted away. It was refreshing. Revelatory. The faintest hint of something floral I couldn’t quite name arrived on the finish. (I would later be informed it was pisco.)
These shots are memorable, in a year where, as Rose put it, we all need to celebrate something. Anything. So, grab a bottle of affordable French bubbles, or even a prosecco or California sparkling wine. Then fire up Parton’s album White Limozeen, and get to jelling.