With inviting Eastern-inspired decor featuring exposed brick walls, plush crimson couches and oversized lanterns, The Hookah (309 Decatur St., 943-1101; www.hookah-club.com) is a versatile space that straddles the intersection between lounge, live music venue and upscale nightclub.
"One of the neat things (about The Hookah) is we do a lot of different things," says general manager Emily Schroer. "We bring in electronica DJs, touring national acts, and on Saturday, we do hip-hop night."
The 6,000-square-foot space includes two full bars and is available for private parties, corporate events, receptions, film and photo shoots and production wrap parties.
"We'll work for you from the bottom up," Schroer says. "We're very open to working with whatever you want to do."
Although the club takes pride in adapting to customers' requests and hosting new activities, it remains focused on hookah smoking. Starting at $17 for a single-flavor blend of tobacco, which lasts about an hour and a half, the hand-blown glass hookahs offer a bohemian spin on a familiar social activity.
"At the core of hookah is sharing," says Schroer, who points out that disposable mouthpieces are used on the pipes. "Up to four or five people can share the hookah."
Hookah bowls are filled with an all-natural, additive-free Middle Eastern tobacco called shisha.
"The tobacco is one of the best," Schroer says. "It's cured with honey, molasses, fruit juice and fruit pulp. What you find in a cigarette is a lot of additives, and you definitely don't find that in shisha. It's a light, fruity smoke."
Patrons can choose from an assortment of 30 flavors, custom combinations or house blends like Spider Monkey (a top-selling blend of honey, vanilla and blackberry-flavored tobacco).
"We can make literally hundreds of mixtures," Schroer says. "It's kind of like a tobacco mixology."
To infuse another layer of flavor, sake, wine or liquor can be incorporated into the blend.
"We mix the liquor in the base with the water to change the flavors," Schroer says. "It's a great thing to share with friends. I think that's integral to the hookah process, and also to our business."