The Arabic water pipe, or hookah, was used to smoke or vaporize flavored tobacco as early as the 16th century, and is still an integral part of Middle Eastern culture today. In recent years, hookah smoking has gained popularity in North America, particularly among young people, and hookah lounges and bars popping up in Canada and across the United States. While someone can smoke a hookah alone, it is more typically a group activity, and has a huge social component. Friends and acquaintances can spend hours hanging out around a hookah.

With a hookah, the vapor or smoke from the tobacco is funneled through a water basin before being inhaled. The tobacco, called shisha, comes in a wide variety of flavors. Traditional shisha is made by soaking roughly chopped tobacco leaves and stems in molasses, creating a thick, sticky texture. Flavors can be added through the addition of chopped fruit or liquid flavoring, making it taste sweeter and less harsh. Herbal shisha is becoming more widely available, and generally does not have nicotine. This allows more freedom of use in areas where traditional cigarette smoking in a place open to the public is disallowed.

Here are some of the best hookah lounges in the Sacramento area to check out.

Hookaholics Hookah Lounge
7431 W. Stockton Blvd., Suite100
Sacramento, CA 95823
(916) 753-2119

Hookaholics is as much a nightclub and rave as it is a hookah lounge. DJs, live performers, belly dancers, hip-hop and Latin dance add to the club atmosphere, and customers must be 18 and older to come in. Hookah tobacco flavors include convicted melon, apple dapple and cool bliss with menthol, and pineapple or watermelon fruit bowls, using more than 9.8 grams of the guests’ choice of flavors, are also popular. Enhancers like ice tips and bubbles are available.

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Exhale Hookah Lounge
1725 Santa Clara Drive
Roseville, CA 95661
(916) 780-3300

If the sitcom “Friends” were being filmed these days, Rachel, Ross, Phoebe and the gang would probably spend more time in a hookah lounge like Exhale than in the Central Perk coffeehouse. Created to be a relaxed, fun environment for shisha and e-cigar smokers, the place has a laid-back feeling and look with comfortable sofas, televisions and an outdoor patio. The prices are more reasonable than at some other hookah lounges, and the staff is attentive and friendly.

Tonic Smoke & Vape Shop
1401 Fulton Ave., Suite A
Sacramento, CA 95825
(916) 900-6459

This large, clean lounge and store has a vast selection of hookah pipes and shisha, along with charcoal and other items needed to use, create and clean your own water pipe or vapor system. Flavored oils are available for purchase, and customers can taste different oils first to find the ones they prefer. Tonic staff members make many of the pipes and shisha themselves, often opting for ingredients that produce flavors that are less harsh or chemical tasted. The shop is well known for in-depth knowledge and high grade of customer service.

Aladdin Cafe Hookah Bar – Roseville
9600 Fair Way Drive, Suite 190
Roseville, CA 95678
(916) 774-0110

Aladdin Cafe 5 Star Hookah Bar – Rancho Cordova
2931 Sunrise Blvd.
Rancho Cordova, CA 95742
(916) 631-8923

Aladdin operates two hookah bars, one in Roseville and one Rancho Cordova. Only stainless steel Egyptian hookahs, made by companies including Khalil Mamoon and Majdy Zadan, are used. Roseville customer Robert Francis says that he appreciates the high-quality, authentic shisha at Aladdin, adding that the club also has an excellent DJ. Premium tobacco from Ed Hardy, Fumari, Al Fakher and Star Buzz are available, as are the Aladdin-created blends.

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Valerie Heimerich is a freelance writer out of Sacramento. She typically covers animals and community issues. She has volunteered and worked for many organizations helping animals and people.
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