Will a Boston Spot Clinch the James Beard Award for 'Outstanding Bar Program'?

Attention, tipplers: The call for James Beard Award nominations went out last week, and there’s a brand new category for 2012: “Outstanding Bar Program.” The award is to recognize “a restaurant or bar that demonstrates excellence in cocktail, spirits and/or beer service.” Of course, competition will be steep, as Boston area establishments will have to throw down with superstars like Portland, Ore.’s Beaker & Flask, New York’s Pegu Club, etc.

My short list of our city’s best chances for the gold, er, JB Award? Craigie on Main, Eastern Standard, and Drink (Beard alum Barbara Lynch’s other cocktail mecca, No. 9 Park, is also a strong contender, especially with a wine program and a beer menu to boot). I also find myself sipping at the Independent, Trina’s, and Bergamot — the “Elixir d’Auge,” made with Daron Calvados brandy, Bénédictine liqueur, Ras el Hanout-Citrus syrup, and hot water, is a particular favorite at the Somerville spot — quite often, but that may have something to do with their proximity to my house.

And, please, feel free to do your own “research” — anyone can register and nominate bars, restaurants, and chefs in any of the categories through Dec. 31.