Beets are the quintessential cook’s vegetable: in a skilled cook’s hands, they undergo a big transformation, from hard, dense, and assertively sweet, to smooth, velvety, and balanced. They must be cooked, I think, to taste their best, and when cooked and seasoned with care, they’re as delicious as they are colorful. Their substantial, earthy-sweet flavor is always a delight. I use beets most frequently in the cooler months of the year—their intense colors are especially welcome then—but even now, in midsummer, some of our local farmers are still offering them at the markets alongside the heirloom tomatoes, peppers, corn, and eggplant. Here is a hot-weather beet inspiration Elge brought when she visited last week for the book party: a beet-based Bloody Mary. At home, she’d made David Tanis’ “Cold Pink Borscht in a Glass” from his cookbook A Platter of Figs and had some leftover broth. “Oooh, a beet Bloody Mary!” she thought. We made some broth expressly for making the drinks, and were thoroughly refreshed by them after a long day of Big Pink Cake-wrangling and other party preparations. I thought such a deep red drink needed a name—an appropriate, modern name…whether you associate it with the star or the witch, “Bellatrix” seemed just right. If an air of danger comes to mind, well, perhaps it's appropriate...these are very potent...and very drinkable.