I went with Doctor Pong's in Darlinghurst, as my recommendation. I hadn't been in a few months, but I remembered a casual bar with a great DJ playing classic hip hop. Sure the service was never particularly that great, and they often charged extortion-like rates for Patron XO Cafe (a cardinal sin amongst my circle of friends), but it was considered a favorite nonetheless.
Alas, even the best bars are capable of falling from their pedestal. And Doctor Pong's has fallen hard. Let me list the ways that this place was able to amaze us with their incompetence:
1) Confused about their opening times - Their website says they still open at noon (as they did until recently, from what we can tell), however they didn't actually open until 5pm.
2) Really, really horrible music - We got there around 5ish, and for well over an hour had to suffer through what I can only charitably describe as elevator music. When we pointed out that it wasn't really appropriate for a Saturday night, the bar manager actually said that no one there knew how to work the sound system (unlikely, since one of you would have turned it on, idiot), and we'd have to wait for the DJ to arrive and set up before the music would change. This eventually happened, but it was far too late to stop us from hating the bar and everyone who worked there.
3) They started running out of booze - First it was the Frangelico they didn't have any more of. Then it was vodka. Then it was beer. Did you know this actually happened in bars? I mean someone's house party, okay, sure. But a bar. Whose primary purpose is to sell alcohol to people. Ridiculous.
Clearly this is all a result of shockingly bad management on someone's part, but in the end there are more than enough awesome bars in Sydney that we won't be back. And there was even a rather solid rumor going around that Dr Pong's will be closing its doors soon (did they fail because of poor management? or did they stop caring because they were closing anyway? chicken or the egg situation there), so at least someone else will hopefully get a chance to turn it into somewhere that people would actually want to hang out again.