Your first job, should you wish to visit Ching-a-Lings, will be to find it. You'll need to locate an unmarked doorway on Oxford Street, a little east of the intersection with Crown Street. But piece the puzzle together correctly and you'll be plenty rewarded.
A no-fuss saloon set on the first floor above a tobacconist, Ching-a-Lings was one of the first arrivals when small bars started popping up in Darlo and Surry Hills (Pocket Bar, Shady Pines Saloon, Darlie Laundromatic and Cafe Lounge are all just steps away). But unlike the others, Ching-a-Lings always stayed a little off the radar. Especially come the weekend when Oxford Street gets all jammed up.
Inside, the decor's pretty minimalist: there are exposed brick walls, a collection of band posters and the odd splatter of graffiti. The lightbulbs trapped in the ceiling are a nice design flourish, while the couches up front have pleasant views out over the street. The bar's towards the back, and just beyond is the small rooftop terrace. Wooden benches ring the space shaded by huge umbrellas ensnared with fairy lights.
Inquire at the bar and you'll realise Ching-a-Lings is decidedly unfancy when it comes to drinks – no liquid nitrogen or fresh produce here – instead, they serve longnecks of Coopers and Singha beers, Australian vino (served in tumblers) and plenty of hard liquor. And if you're lucky, they might even offer you some drinking snacks (like wasabi peas) to munch on as well.
There's usually someone working the turntables and a heavy rotation of funk, soul, and hip-hop fills the bar most nights. Otherwise, it's all about chilling out on the deck with a cold drink. Ching-a-Lings, refreshingly, welcomes all comers, meaning you'll find it hard to be out of place. Roll up folks, because the secret's out: this place is fun.