What better time of year to gauge the drinking habits of our loan officer-readers than the holiday season? Those who participated in a survey entitled CHEERS! had fun with the challenge posed, sharing their signature drinks, those poured when the closings are stacking up like hotcakes and what fills their glass when that big deal falls through. A handful of people who are not friendly with ethanol-based beverages also chime in, offering up a few alternative ways to commemorate and maneuver the good and bad days of this industry.
Sixty-five percent of survey participants say they celebrate closing a loan with a cocktail.
Exactly one-quarter indicate there is some variation of bourbon in their celebratory/clear to close drink. Jameson Irish Whiskey and Old Fashioneds are mentioned frequently.
Five say they rejoice with champagne; two enjoy a “fine” or “nice” India Pale Ale (IPA) and three, red wine. Other answers include Two Hearted Ale, tequila, martinis and Long Island Iced Tea.
Dennis Gilmore, senior mortgage broker with Treelight Mortgage in Denver, Colo. answers diplomatically with a “Whatever you are drinking!”
Unless they’ve closed every deal in their portfolios without a hitch and never had a bad day at work, no LO is immune to office burnout. Maybe catching flak from a competitor, a boss, a client, or the day itself, everyone has experienced the feeling of defeat.
When they’ve “lost that deal” or are “burnt out from work” — the drink of choice among LOs varies as widely as their celebratory beverages.
Emily Wilson, president of Heritage Financial in Ojai, Calif., often chooses red wine or Jameson to celebrate a closing or lament a lost loan that fell through the cracks.
“I love the complexity of red wine. You can have two bottles of the same wine from different vineyards and they could taste completely different,” she tells NMP. “Wine changes as you drink it and it’s not the same on all palates. I love to simply enjoy wine, take my time with it and see how it evolves. This makes for a perfect celebratory drink. Relish in your accomplishments.”
As for the hard stuff, this mortgage master contends that it’s good for the soul.
“Jameson is just upfront and honest, like all good mortgage brokers should be. It’s good from the first sip to the last and is the perfect companion when you’re sulking over a lost loan, interest rates, homeowners insurance in California, I could go on.”
Wilson’s signature cocktail? The Blushing Bride — fresh watermelon juice, vodka, St. Germain, and a squeeze of lime. Her original recipe made its debut at her wedding and she’s been whipping it up ever since.
“Keep it in your back pocket,” she says. “It’s easy to make it in big batches and it’s a real crowd pleaser.”
Frank Audino, president of Fidelity Capital in Larchmont, N.Y., has but one preference, in various quantities. His celebratory/clear to close drink is a shot of bourbon and his burnt out from work/lost that deal drink is a double shot of bourbon. His brand? Kentucky’s own Basil Hayden.
Gilmore, the flexible finisher of deals, does not reward his losses.
“No drinking is allowed under those circumstances,” he says.
But when he is behind the bar, this broker is shaking up dirty vodka martinis.
“Not too dirty, just dusty,” he clarifies.
“Not too dirty, just dusty.”
Dennis Gilmore, senior mortgage broker with Treelight Mortgage in Denver, Colo., on how he likes his dirty martinis.
Similar in his abstention after a hard day or losing a deal is Jacob Arko, account executive with Acra Lending in Irvine, Calif. Arko elects for H2O when times are tough. “Nothing to celebrate,” he says. “Back to the grind.”
Elena Mata, LO with EMC Equity Mortgage Consulting, answers every occasion with tequila and nothing more. “We just do shots,” she says.
Meanwhile, Barbara Goldman, an LO with Yellowstone Mortgage in Newport Beach, Calif., rejoices in good business with an Old-Fashioned and mourns a lost deal with a high-ABV, barrel-aged beer. Her signature drink? Rock ‘n’ Rye, which Whisky Advocate describes as “a blend of citrus and rye whiskey sweetened with crystallized sugar, sometimes known as rock candy.”
Answering anonymously, the person who comes to closings with a bottle of champagne for the new homeowners prefers to fill their own glass with Diet Dr. Pepper.
And the one who would rather a Grasshopper Martini to the cookie, or a Froz-mopolitan to frozen yogurt?
It’s not Samantha Rizzo, MLO at SmartLink Financial, whose after-dinner treats never skirt the line between dessert and drink.
“Everyone likes to celebrate with little indulgences, and for me, that happens to be sweets,” says Rizzo, who is based in Utah. “I choose to be sober because I come from a traumatic childhood, so I don’t think alcohol would suit me well since I’ve struggled with my mental health in the past. With desserts, you get the same dopamine hit (and accompanying sugar rush) without any of the headaches, nausea, impaired judgment, or other side effects that alcohol might cause. It’s just pure, decadent, sweet, luscious goodness that you’ll be able to relish and remember every celebratory moment.”
Then there is Ramon Mendoza, a real estate investor with Real TX Home Buyers in Galveston, Texas, who appears to have a similar take on imbibing on the job. He responds to all questions on the CHEERS! survey with, “THE BIG JUG OF STRAWBERRY MILK!!”
Lisa Toscano, a broker in Murrieta, Calif., says she sips coffee or water no matter the occasion. Her signature drink recipe? “Put coffee beans in water.”
That brings us to Curt Tiedeman, an Issaquah, Wash.-based LO with American Pacific Mortgage who also says he never toasts a closing with an adult beverage. “Maybe I should now since it is a ‘win’ with fewer closings,” Tiedeman says.
When work gets taxing, he too takes a different tactic.
“I don’t get upset when I lose a deal if I know that I did everything possible to keep it — that is a go-workout-hard- versus go-have-a-drink-event,” he tells NMP.
Outside of work, his go-to summer drink? A gin and tonic.
Times have changed for MLOs and business people in general. The three-martini lunch doesn’t happen as often as it used to in the working world.
Take it from Tiedeman, who doesn’t dip his paycheck in the hard stuff much anymore.
“Many of my agents don’t drink and it is too risky to drink and drive,” he explains, adding, “It’s no fun anymore! I miss the old days!”
Big Apple Manhattan
2 oz. rye whiskey
1 oz. apple brandy
2 dashes angostura bitters
Apple slice, for garnish
Fill a pint glass or cocktail shaker with ice. Add whiskey, brandy, and bitters, then stir. Strain into a glass and garnish with an apple slice.
Recipe submitted by Curt Tiedeman, American Pacific Mortgage
This article was originally published in the NMP Magazine December 2023 issue.