Home Sri Lanka Celebrating Christmas with a Taste of Sri Lanka: King Coconut Wine Recipe

Celebrating Christmas with a Taste of Sri Lanka: King Coconut Wine Recipe

by Thushni de Silva
Planning a trip to Sri Lanka | Toddy Tapper

Today, I’m thrilled to share with you a recipe that’s like a Christmas cake in liquid form – our very own King Coconut Wine. This versatile recipe can be adapted to make carrot, beetroot, raisin, cherry wine, and more. It’s a long-term project, perfect to start now and savour by Christmas 2024. At ETG, we love a good challenge, and we’d be delighted to hear your experiences if you give it a try!

King Coconut Wine Recipe


For the Wine:

  • 2 King Coconuts (yielding about 750ml)
  • 250g Sugar
  • 2-inch Cinnamon Stick
  • 3-4 Cloves
  • 3-4 Cardamom Pods
  • 37.5ml Lime Juice (roughly 1 and a bit)
  • ½ teaspoon Yeast

For the Caramel:

  • 1 tablespoon Sugar
  • 2 dessert spoons of Water


  • 2 Glass Jars or Earthenware Pots
  • Cloth for Covering
  • Filter Paper and Funnel


  1. Preparing the Mixture: Combine the king coconut water, sugar, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, lime juice, and yeast in one of your jars. Cover it with a cloth (this is crucial to prevent any yeasty carbon dioxide incidents!) and let it sit undisturbed in a dark cupboard for 8-10 days.
  2. Making the Caramel: In a pan, burn 1 tablespoon of sugar with water. Stir occasionally until it turns dark. Remove from heat and add this caramel to the king coconut mixture.
  3. Straining Process: Use filter paper in a funnel to strain the mixture slowly into a new glass jar. Cover and let it rest for a day. Then, strain again into a sterilised jar to remove any final sediment.
  4. Fermentation: Cover the jar loosely (to avoid any pressure build-up) and store it for a minimum of 6 months. A year is recommended for the best results, but some enthusiasts rest it for as little as 3 weeks.
  5. Serving: When your King Coconut wine is ready, it should have a golden-orange colour and a delightful Christmassy smell. Toast with your loved ones and enjoy it with cheese and grapes.

A Sri Lankan Christmas Staple

King coconut wine is a festive staple in Sri Lanka. Known locally as thambili, king coconut has been a classic thirst-quencher, celebrated locally for its purported health benefits and even as a hangover cure. This wine recipe is a testament to Sri Lankan ingenuity, transforming a nutritious drink into a refined wine.

Recipe Origins

The exact origins of this recipe are shrouded in mystery, likely influenced by Dutch colonial times. Each family has its unique twist, making it a treasured heirloom. This specific recipe is inspired by South Asia’s renowned cuisine expert and first TV home-cook in Sri Lanka, Mallika Joseph. You can even find her video tutorial on YouTube.

a sri lankan toddy tapper rests against a tree in the setting sun

A Few Tips

  • Always use glass bottles and a wooden spoon for stirring.
  • Sterilise your bottles to ensure safety.
  • Adjust sugar to taste.
  • Be cautious with the bottle sealing during fermentation to manage the CO2 pressure.

So, there you have it – a journey into brewing thambili wine, a cherished Sri Lankan tradition that adds a unique flavour to any celebration. Happy brewing and Merry Christmas in advance!

If you’d like to try this and other Sri Lankan delicacies in their natural habitat, get in touch with our travel experts to plan your delicious adventure.

Pidurangala Rock with a view of Sigiriya


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