Jungle Mixology | Daily News

Jungle Mixology

Get back to natures natural drinks

Pick your own curry leaves and juice them


I go on the island’s first jungle drinks mixology course and learn how natures natural produce create delicious and extremely healthy juices.

Set against the dripping tropical jungle, iridescent paddy fields and stunning mountains sits a magical new hotel experience created by Jetwing Kuduruketha.

This natural scenic gem has woven traditional life throughout all its hotel operations including an exciting new jungle drinks bar experience, which has its inspirations from ancient styles of mixology. Nowhere could be more perfect as a setting to experiment with over a hundred fruits, leaves, roots to pick from than here.

A place you will learn all about the ancient knowledge of preparing juices jungle village style.

Something Sri Lankan village people have been doing for thousands of years and are now being celebrated at Wellawaya, which is an amazing crossroads to over 20 fascinating archeological sites dotted around the area like Yudhaganawa temple ruins, Buduruwagala, Maligawila, and Dematamal viharaya.

First master class

The mixologist with the 
teacher W L Nimal Ekanayake 

After a long day exploring some of the little known spots nothing could be healthier and fun than finishing off the day with the countries first master class in Jungle Mixology. For members of the family who fancy something less healthy, Wellawaya town boasts a local pub called Blue Sapphire, which is a fun pit stop for a cold beer after a day’s exploration wading through waterfalls and climbing up mountains to see sacred spots.

WL Nimal Ekanayake aka jungle fruits mixologist will line up the bar on your return with bowls of freshly picked fruits from the jungle many unknown to me, and piles of leaves brimming over with foliage screaming out natural goodness. Nimal is Jetwing Kuduruketha’s supervisor who loves in his spare time to teach people about local Sri Lankan drinks harking back to his childhood and later years working at Nuga Gama ‘the village in the city concept’ in Colombo. Here he learned about the rich history of the countries rural roots that fascinated him. His lineup is huge and in a half day course and a lot of shot glasses later you will feel not only healthier inside, but have gained an encyclopedic wealth of knowledge about all the magical things jungle roots, leaves and fruits can do for you. So roll up your sleeves and have a go at creating your own jungle juice concoction and if it is good enough mix they will add it to the Jetwing Kudurketha nature’s drinks menu.

Mixing ingredients

During the course you get to try lots of things from chewing leaves to mixing them together with other ingredients. As we progress from fruits to leaves I am taught about the many different ways the drinks can be produced, and I personally love the crushing up bits, straining and hand squeezing process. The list available is seasonal and currently includes Gotukola curry leaves picked from around the swimming pool– great for the digestion and packed full of iron so your hair looks glossy and healthy if you juice a bunch of leaves daily.

Jungle Mixology - Gotukola

We discovered from Hasantha the Resident Assistant Manager that Beli is even more amazing adding ice cream, which makes it a wicked milkshake and excellent for your stomach, like raw mango and fresh ginger juices, which stops sea sickness. This is well worth remembering when going whale watching to take some ginger with you to chew on when the waves start getting to you. Ginger also helps with pregnancy sickness and gives the stomach a good clean out, which I learn from the two ayurveda doctors at the hotel, is a good thing after an operation. My favourite bit was bashing the limes still in their skins to pull out the zest of the juice from the skin into a beer glass

Ginger drink

before adding ice and honey, and you will have to take my word on this that it beats squeezed lime juice any day as the skin gives it the healthy zing that is lost with squeezing it. We are told the skin of the lime is also the secret to keeping the skin free of spots by wiping it across your face. Village women have been using this simple beauty treatment for centuries to dry out spots on their faces and stop mosquitoes biting them at night. I also learnt how to do different things with tamarind, first using my hands I took the rough pod like skins off and squeezed the inside sticky bits in water by hand as a liquidizer makes the exterior flesh of the seeds turn the juice pasty. This drink is very good for refreshing the body and cleaning the digestive system, as is watermelon, pineapple and guava. Other fruits used in season are Weal, Nellie, woodapple, star fruit, passion, mandarin, mango, and papaya.

Art in every manner

Between making drinks, an artist Chathuranga (in management training) sat quietly drawing in pencil a peacock in full plumage display highlighting the exotic location, where one peacock sits in a tree opposite the bar and restaurant watching all the comings and goings early morning. Here he quietly drew feather after feather of the peacock, one of 35 varieties of birds that can be seen in any given day, but if you stay longer and love bird watching, 88 different varieties have been logged by the in house naturalist. If you have children, Ishara a girl from the village will happily on request come and show you how to make paper flowers. It’s so good you can’t tell the difference between the paper creations and the real ones in the garden.

Along side mixology course, hotel artists draws a peacock 

Art has always been an important part of Sri Lankan culture. From the moment a child learns to draw their Sinhala letters they are creating magical imagery on a page. So if you have old bits of material lying around at home, fabric that won’t make the trip back, a duster or two why not learn how to quilt a stunning fabric painting in a couple of hours with Thushari from the local beauty salon, who will happily do a workshop if requested in advance. On sunny days the team will extend the mixology course and take you on a walk through the forest area bordering Kirndi Oya to pick your own fruits and leaves for what is always an exciting lesson in jungle mixology. You will be amazed that you can make over 100 different juices from the jungle and just as many incredible food dishes.

So go on take a walk on the wild side and get back to your natural roots. 




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