Cocktail Master Will Earls Is Leaving Firefly

The mixologist known as “Blackbird” is heading for Hudson restaurant

Will Earls might be obsessed with the man in black, but he’s not afraid to put rose petals in his drinks.

The intimate bar at Firefly (1310 New Hampshire Ave., NW; 202-861-1310), with its lifesize, lifelike tree centerpiece and dangling lanterns, is one of the prettiest places in town to meet for drinks. Thanks to bar manager Will Earls, the libations have been as memorable as the urban-treehouse setting.

Get them while you can. In two weeks, Earls will leave Firefly for the soon-to-open Hudson restaurant (2030 M St., NW), housed in the former David Greggory space, where he’ll serve as general manager and won’t have as much time to devote to the cocktail menu. Fortunately, the new fall lineup of drinks by Earls—a.k.a. Blackbird—will remain on the Firefly menu through December. Earls acquired his nickname back in college thanks to his penchant for black cars and clothes as well as a thing for Johnny Cash. “It’s sort of a weird fascination,” he says.

Although the Texas-born, Arizona-bred mixologist changes Firefly’s entire cocktail roster each season, there’s always a spin on a margarita. This fall, a subtly sweet concoction of Milagro Silver tequila, fresh lime juice, and prickly-pear purée gets a spicy kick from a chipotle-infused simple syrup.

Other drinks pay homage to Firefly staff members. The Jenn McRickey, named for bartender Jenn Schwartz, blends gin with house-made lime soda and preserved Key limes; chef Daniel Bortnick gets the Danny Appleseed, a refreshing mojito muddled with golden apples. “The chef and I are best friends,” says Earls. “It’s going to be hard to leave.”

Good thing his new job is just a few blocks away.