How to Buy the Perfect Hookah

This time of year is the perfect time to buy a hookah and I’m here to tell you how.

The hibernation period for barbecues, boats, and pasty thighs had ended. Summer has arrived and, at the very least, it’s time for porch drinking and hamburger-related gluttony. Since you’re already well-versed in this three-month orgy of delicious dead animals, sunburned skin, and existing in perpetual sweatiness, you’ve decided to enhance the regiment this year. Tropical vacation destinations, obnoxiously gaudy back tattoos, exercising into a non-awful body, there’s a lot of improvement options on the table. Yet, one of the easiest and cheapest is normally overlooked.

The hookah—it’s social, habit-forming, and inherently exotic; truly, the way we view partaking in hookah is the way our parents’ generation views dining at The Rainforest Café. No question, the hookah never disappoints; it complements any activity with the endorphin-releasing qualities of cigarettes blended with the sweet taste of candy cigarettes, perfectly uniting the best from adult-life and childhood together.

The quest for the perfect hookah is generally not a straightforward one; it’s not like eggs or McNuggets that have prescribed locations and prices. Parents or grandparents are not to be consulted; it’s to be expected that any mention of anything foreign and remotely Middle Eastern sounding, like Aladdin, falafel, or The Little Rascals’ Alfalfa, will have them convinced you’re not looking for a new outdoor activity and actually supporting some Al-Qaeda offshoot.

Now it might be a whole commercial block. It might be a single liquor store/restaurant/cell-phone retailer. It might even be an entire Dearborn, Michigan. Every city has some sort of Middle Eastern district. Venture to said promise land. If you’re not sure where it is, well, just wander; you’ll know you’ve found it when you start smelling lentils and hearing off-brand house music.

At this point your options at this point could be vast or limited, bur amass all of the information you can now. Any clerk can spot a customer buying something for the first time and they’ll be quick to add on useless accessories, never asking for consent while they ravage your wallet. Right now just learn; for once, studying can actually yield an immediate payoff.

Shop around, don’t take out your cash, and sample as much as you can, particularly if a store’s also giving away food or cigarettes. Once you know precisely what you’re looking for in terms of size, hoses, and style, return to the place that sells the most non-hookah items. Hookah lounges usually have markups, as they’re quick to hustle the impulsively uninformed, and specifically hookah shops will try to up-sell you to something non-standard when all you’re essentially looking for is a vase with a smoking pipe and a hose coming out of it. Given, it’s a counterintuitive strategy, but you’ll be able to finagle a better price. Similar to pizza, the best values in hookah are often found in gas stations and liquor stores.

Of course, the non-adventurous can always fall back on the overpriced Internet hookah market, hoping that the money they wired to a foreign account yields sufficient, smokable returns and summertime fun. Maybe I’m a cynic, but I’m hard-pressed to remember anything, clothes, mail-order brides, etc., that’s been shipped from the Internet that I’ve actually wanted to put my mouth on.

Justin Gawel is an adult baby from Michigan whose articles appear on and most weeks. Look for more of his writing, his BroBible archive, and his updates at or follow him @justingawel on Twitter.