Fruit Cocktail with Rum Simple Syrup

Did any of you grow up eating fruit cocktail from the little tiny can?  My mom served it all the time, and I don’t know if I’m remembering it right, but I think our whole family shared the one little can.  Not because we couldn’t afford more, but because fruit was way down the totem pole of food priorities, dwarfed by meat and potatoes.

I remember the fruit was cut up in perfect little cubes, all in faded pastel shades.  There were pale green grapes— I think they were peeled —and a lone pink cherry.  We used to fight over that cherry.

This idea came to me when I noticed that, amazingly, they’re still selling the stuff!  This is my homage to that little can of fruit.

Instead of insipid chunks of mushy pear and pathetic little skinned grapes, how about mango, papaya, berries, and melons.  How about drenching them in a rum-enhanced simple syrup?  They do call it a fruit cocktail, after all.

This is an ideal use for leftover fruit.  Cut it all in uniform small dice, and use a good variety of color and texture.  It has the same appeal as a chopped salad—it takes a little prep but the result is worth it.  It’s also a good way to introduce kids to a wider variety of fruits.  (Leave out the rum, of course.)

I used watermelon, honeydew melon, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, papaya, kiwi, grapes, pineapple, and cocktail cherries for garnish.

Fruit Cocktail with Rum Simple Syrup


  • assorted fruit: use what's in season, but use a variety of colors and textures
  • cherries and mint leaves for garnish
    rum simple syrup
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • several sprigs of fresh mint
  • 1/4 cup white rum


  1. Dice the fruit into uniformly small cubes. For the best results, put the fruit directly into small serving dishes. This will help keep the fruit intact.
  2. Pour a little Rum Simple Syrup over each dish and serve garnished with a cherry and a few mint leaves.
  3. To make the syrup, combine the water and sugar in a saucepan and stir well. Heat to a boil, stirring to dissolve all the sugar. Boil, uncovered, for 3 minutes.
  4. Take the syrup off the heat and add the mint and rum. Muddle, or crush, the mint leaves with a wooden spoon so they release their essential oils.
  5. Cool and then strain the syrup.
  6. You can keep the syrup in a jar with a tight fitting lid in the fridge indefinitely.


Just omit the rum if you are serving this to the family.

Serve it as a first course, or for dessert.  Spoon it over yogurt or granola for breakfast, again, probably without the rum ;)

I’m dying to know— who’s still buying those cans!?

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13 Responses to Fruit Cocktail with Rum Simple Syrup

  1. […] Get the recipe from The View From Great Island. […]

  2. grace says:

    i remember being thoroughly disappointed by those fruit cocktails every time. there is simply no comparison–what you’ve made is outstanding and supremely beautiful!

  3. I love how you cut everything so neatly. Great looking fruit salad.

  4. Grace @ Sense and Simplicity says:

    I love your fruit salad – well actually I love any fruit salad, even the one in those little cans (except I always hated the cherry – it was all about the grapes).

  5. Mary Younkin says:

    Sue, these fruit cups are stunning. You totally put to shame the dinky cups of fruit I served my boys for their dessert tonight. What was I thinking with just bananas and berries? Clearly, I’m a slacker.

    Seriously though, these are lovely and the photos are excellent as always!

  6. The Café Sucré Farine says:

    YUM Sue! You make the most simple things look amazing, this looks fabulous! NOTHING like what many of us remember …………….

  7. Carol | a cup of mascarpone says:

    Yes, please! How beautifully fresh and colorful! Have a wonderful weekend, Sue!

  8. The canned fruit cocktail would always end up in a jello mold in my home growing up! I think it’s wonderful the variety of fruit that are available to us today. What a gorgeous fruit cocktail and I love the rum with it :)

  9. Karen Harris says:

    Oh my gosh this really took me back! I think I’d probably still arm wrestle you for that pale pink half cherry at the bottom of the can. This looks wonderful. I love the bit of rum in the simple syrup. I can’t wait to give it a try.

  10. Your fruit cocktail looks amazing! And rum syrup, yum!

    Sadly I’m still one of those people who buys a can or two of fruit cocktail every year. I serve it with an Asian almond dessert because that’s the way I remember it from dim sum in Toronto; it’s nostalgic.

  11. Absolutely beautiful! I do remember fruit cocktail in a can. My mother made frozen fruit salad with it. I would love these fruit cups for breakfast or anytime, including dessert with the rum.

  12. Lovely colorful cocktail and full of vitamins!

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