A Literary Jug

Slake's contribution to your liquor cabinet

The Los Angeles-based literary journal Slake is getting dirty for its fourth issue.

In Dirt, the publication examines that title and theme via all sorts of figurative and literal associations. One essay gives an on-the-ground account of the Occupy L.A. encampment; another interviews an alchemist and former publisher pursuing immortality in the high desert.

There's some true grit to be had, too: dirt you can feel with your fingers, which happens to be affixed to the limited-edition run of MerkelWare whiskey jugs (pictured; $95) that sculptor Matt Merkel-Hess made to commemorate the new issue. The finish on each of Merkel-Hess' rustic jugs is achieved by pressing soil collected from either Venice Beach, the San Gabriel Mountains, Griffith Park or Bel Air into the wet clay before firing the vessels.

Merkel-Hess says he sometimes dresses up a good, affordable mixing whiskey by pouring it into one of his jugs (Iko Iko sells dirt-free versions). But he's also seen them used to serve water or as olive-oil carafes.

Since this area lacks a local whiskey, olive oil might be the most fitting filling for one of these jugs; pouring Moraga Vineyards oil out of the Bel Air jug would be particularly satisfying.