No book-shopping trip to Kolkata’s College Street is complete without a visit to the legendary Paramount Sherbet.

The iconic eatery sits on a quiet corner of Bankim Chatterjee Street in College Square. Started by Nihar Ranjan Mazumdar in 1918, it is a small family-run business.

Back in the freedom fighting days, the place used to be frequented by intellectuals and revolutionaries, and this cold drinks joint served as a common meeting place for them.

“My grandfather started this place as a disguise for the British authorities. There is a secret room behind this place, which served as a space for fellow revolutionaries to hold meetings and discuss strategies,” informs Partha Pratim Mazumdar, Nihar Ranjan’s grandson.

But being a disguise for the revolutionaries did not stop the family from concocting unique mixes that would be the people’s favourite for years to come.

Serving more than 30 varieties of sherbet, three of them — Dab Sherbet, Green Mango Malai and Vanilla Malai, have survived the test of time and continue to be the star items of the menu.

“Be it Subhash Chandra Bose, Rabindranath Tagore, Prafulla Chandra Ray, Kazi Nazrul Islam, Satyajit Ray, Uttam Kumar, Suchitra Sen, SD Burman, Arundhati Roy, or Sunil Ganguly, many influential people have graced our humble abode,” says Partha.

He also informs that over the years, the eatery has experimented with new flavours and introduced bottled versions of their unique syrups. They have also started to provide catering services.

“People from abroad also visit — both for taste and nostalgia. Our customers like this original down-to-earth vibe here, so we want to keep it that way,” he says.

He adds that despite their increasing popularity, they never entertained the idea of starting a franchise to preserve this place in its original form as much as possible.