Eat—and Drink—Your Summer Dessert with This Boozy Fruit Salad


I doubt there are many people who don’t love a delicious fruit salad—especially when it includes the amazing, peak-of-ripeness local fruit available in Chicagoland this time of year. But if you’re looking for something just as tasty and with a little kick to it, this adaptable spiked version is an easy way to turn a simple fruit salad into a party.

This is hardly my own invention. I stumbled on a boozy fruit salad years ago on a food blog that disappeared not long after. But after many seasons of mixing myriad combinations of fruit with almost any variety of liquor you can name—whiskey, rum, vodka, tequila and Southern Comfort to name a few—this ranks as my trademark dessert.

Unless you absolutely refuse to chop stuff, this fruit salad is stupid easy to make.  It has four ingredients (and the amount can be halved or doubled or whatever):

  • 6 cups of fruit (mostly chopped, though small fruit can be left whole). Stone fruit in season and berries are aptly suited for this. I’ll be honest, I’ve never used banana because I’m not at all certain that it would remain an appetizing color, but feel free to live dangerously. Very ripe, juicy fruit works best, for reasons explained below.
  • 1 ounce of lime juice (though any citrus or other tart juice will do).
  • 3 tablespoons of honey (yeah, you can use sugar, but as a professional Good Food advocate — for real, that’s what I do for a living — I’m all about natural sweeteners).
  • And the booze. Since I started making this, I’d stuck to using a couple of ounces. But there’s this pandemic turning our lives upside down, and desperate times call for… more booze. Just a little more, though: I doubled it to four ounces, which still isn’t a lot considering how diluted it is by all that fruit and juice.

This batch happened to have a mango in it — a long story about how I forgot to customize my Imperfect Produce box last weekend — to go with local peach, cherries and watermelon. So the liquor of choice was rum. 

Now, here is why you want to use super-ripe and super-juicy fruit. As the fruit macerates (i.e. bathes) in that liquor/lime juice/honey syrup, it releases its juices. As a result, you not only get to eat this dessert, you get to drink it too. Pour some of that liquid into a glass and you have one yummy punch.

Unlike most fruit salads, this might not be suitable for breakfast, but it could just be the dessert of champions.

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Bob Benenson

Bob Benenson is publisher/writer/photographer of Local Food Forum, a new newsletter that covers the broad sweep of the Chicago region’s food community. He is a longtime advocate for a better, healthier, more sustainable food system and is an avid home cook who gets most of his delicious ingredients from local farmers.