The Telegraph
Saturday , November 10 , 2012
Since 1st March, 1999
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Chaskaa Cafe @ 1 Allenby Road

What works: Its location. The cafe is located in one of the most ‘happening’ areas of the city — opposite Forum mall, above Cream Centre.

Puff daddy: “This is one of our favourite hangout zones. We come here regularly because we love the ambience. It is fun to hang out over a hookah because you can go home without a hangover or feeling guilty,” says Deepak Jaiswal, a call centre employee, who is a regular with his colleagues. His picks? The Brainfreezer Hookah and Crispy Chilli Babycorn.

“We only serve herbal hookah. We make sure it has as little nicotine content as possible. People love to have hookahs with mocktails and momos here,” says owner Rahul Agarwal.

Pop pick: The Seven Flavour Hookah @ Rs 500

Revvv Up Cafe @ 29/1A Ballygunge Circular Road

What works: Along with hookah, there’s grub and gaming.

Puff daddy: “An ideal evening for us is challenging each other to a game over nachos, mocktails and our favourite flavour of shisha,” say college-students Paras Puri and Harjot Singh.

“We serve fruit-based herbal hookah here. We get a lot of fun-loving crowd between the age group 19-25 who love chilling out over hookah. Our Elaichi Mint is a hot favourite — it has whole elaichi pieces in the hookah mix which gives it a distinct aroma and taste,” says Siddhant Shah, one of the proprietors of Revvv Up.

Pop pick: The Revvv Up Special Elaichi Mint flavour @ Rs 250

Mocha @ 209, AJC Bose Road, Karnani Estate

What works: The busy and buzzing atmosphere.

Puff daddy: “We’re new to hookah, we’ve tried it just a couple of times before but are absolutely in love with it. I think it is fun to chill out at Mocha especially — I’m hooked to the Mint-flavoured hookah,” says lawyer Prarthna Kedia, chilling with buddy Divya Khaitan.

“Fruit-based hookahs are our forte. We believe in serving only healthy hookah. We have got an entire floor dedicated just for hookah lovers, so that other guests, who do not have it, can also enjoy their visit,” says Nikhil Chawla, partner, Mocha.

Pop pick: Casablanca (Paan and Apple mix) at Rs 350.

Privy Ultra Lounge @ Forum

What works: The cool and comfy ambience. A cosy nook at this lounge-bar on the fourth floor of the mall has been allotted to the puffer for them to sit back and unwind.

Puff daddy: “We come here every day. More than the hookah, we are addicted to the place. Hookah is much better than smoking. It doesn’t leave a bitter taste in your mouth,” says student Gauhar Ali, hanging out with bestie Nirja Das.

“The peak hours, 7pm-9pm, are always jam-packed with hookah lovers. There are so many guests who keep coming back and by now we even know their favourite flavours,” says Pavni Sethi, co-director, Privy.

Pop pick: Eilaichi Mint Flavour @ Rs 475

Underground @ Hotel Hindusthan International

What works: The hookah zone at Onyx, the VIP section in Underground, was launched on Wednesday night. It’s still too early to say what will keep it smokin’ but we’re guessing the loyal clientele at the party address.

Puff daddy: “I am a complete hookah freak. I don’t just enjoy having it, I am also aware of the ways in which the flavour can be improved or the amount of smoke can be increased. I feel the best way to have a good smoke is by adding a lot of cold milk with the water. I hope Underground comes up with interesting mixes and flavours,” says businessman Divyansh Karnani, at UG for the launch.

“We are trying to promote herbal and fruit-based hookah. We shall start serving hookah from 6pm every day to encourage the early birds. We are also introducing a gaming zone and a new food menu to complement the hookah next week,” says a spokesperson for Underground.

Pop pick: Onyx Special (comes in three fruit flavours mixed together) @ Rs 350.

Nocturne @ 31 Shakespeare Sarani

What works: Brand name. Already popular as a nightclub, regulars and early birds drop in for hookah.

Puff daddy: “Hookah is fun, relaxing and not hard on the lungs at all,” says businessman Shashank Bhootra, while catching up with the club’s DJ Imran.

“We always promote fruit-based hookah like grape mint, green apple and kiwi. We also add cold milk to the hookah to create a thick smoke for those who like it that way. Hookah is more fun as people can spend a lot of time just sitting and chatting,” says Sovan Mukherjee, director, Nocturne.

Pop pick: Red Bull-based hookah @ Rs 450

Chai Break @ 60/1 Chowringhee Road

What works: The cosy ambience and the staff’s friendly attitude have given Chai Break (near Momo Plaza off Rabindra Sadan Metro station) a loyal customer base. Plus, various flavours of the hookah, starting at Rs 210, along with the famous chai (also available in different flavours) and speciality pizzas.

Puff daddy: “The best way to spend a rainy evening or after-work hours is to sit in our favourite corner at Chai Break and have an adda over tea and hookah,” says businessman Rishabh Dastidar, with his favourite vanilla mint-flavoured hookah and buddy Divyansh Jaiswal for company.

“Apart from youngsters, we also see a lot of people from the 35-plus age group coming in. We also have water, Red Bull and cola-based hookahs,” says Anirudh Poddar, director, Chai Break.

Pop pick: Teen Paan Flavour @ Rs 250