You Won't Believe Which Celeb De Niro Was Once A Waiter For

Photo: Henry Lamb/Photowire/BEImages.
Robert De Niro may be a two-time Oscar-winner with a long list of acting and producing credits and a highly acclaimed international film festival, but he also has great taste in food, as his founding stake in the high-end Nobu restaurant chain proves. And, since apparently that's not enough to keep him busy, De Niro recently co-created a new vodka brand, VDKA 6100.

So, when he invited me to have a martini with him in a small, plant-filled room at his Greenwich Hotel, saying yes was a no-brainer. In preparation, I read a lot of his old interviews. Of course, everyone asks him about his incredible career and his multiple businesses, but I couldn't find much information about him from his youth. I was curious to know who he was before he became the iconic, global celebrity that we all know today. Below, De Niro gave us some gems about the time he was a waiter for Dustin Hoffman, his remarkable standards of excellence, and never looking back.

Photo Courtesy of VDKA6100.

His first apartment didn't have a bedroom.

"I grew up in the Village when I was a little kid, and then we moved to Chelsea. My first apartment was on Irving Place, between 18th and 19th streets. I didn't have a roommate because rent was $75 back in those days, which is insane. It was like a studio apartment. It didn't even have a bedroom as I remember." 
Advertisement
He did odd jobs to make ends meet.
"I did odd jobs here and there. I spent some time working at my mother's small business. She used to proofread thesis papers for professors, and it was also a typing business. I worked as a waiter here and there in a couple of situations. I didn't like it, but I did it." 

He once had a very coincidental night.
"I was called for a waitering job at a benefit for Eugene McCarthy's presidential bid, who ran against Bobby Kennedy [in 1968]. Joe Levine [producer of The Graduate] set [the party] up. Dustin Hoffman was there. That night, after I finished, I was walking home up Second Avenue, and there was a TV in the window of a store, and they were showing that Bobby Kennedy had just been assassinated. That was really a very weird thing." 

He's not nostalgic.
"I always think when people say, 'You know, New York is not what is used to be in the '60s, '70s, or '80s,' I say, well, that was then. That's what it was. It is what it is today, and people are going to look back 20, 30 years from now and say New York is now what it wasn't then. So, it's all kind of existential and to me, not important. You know, everything has its time and meaning; enjoy them for the moment or savor them for the moment, or dislike them for the moment, or whatever, but...you can't go back to the past. I mean, was [New York] better when there was more street crime? It was grittier on Broadway and 42nd Street, it almost went bankrupt at one point — is that better?" 

His vodka is good.

"I decided to get involved with VDKA 6100 because I like the vodka — it was very smooth and it was good. And, for me, the bottom line is that it has to taste good. You know, it's like Nobu: The food is great. If the food wasn't great, it doesn't matter who's involved with it, it's just not going to work. So, it's the same with this. You know it will work if it can stand on its own. I can help them do it and stand behind them, but the bottom line is that it has to taste good, and this does." 

What's in his Fuck It Bucket:
"I like having a martini. I like having a great meal. I like to have a great bottle of wine, and sit right where we are now. Those simple things in life are what I like, because it all boils down to that. And, then, the children, of course, and being with them."  


You can (kind of) recreate my experience of drinking with De Niro this weekend by watching one of his many incredible films and making this three-step cocktail from VDKA 6100.
Photo Courtesy of VDKA6100.

The 6100

Ingredients
4 oz VDKA 6100
1 oz dry vermouth
Lemon twist
Ice

1. Combine the vodka, dry vermouth, and ice in a cocktail shaker. Stir.  

2. Strain into a glass, then re-pour the ice into the drink.

3. Top with a lemon twist and enjoy.
Advertisement