Billed as a “holiday experience,” Cousin Eddie’s in the Plaza District is a boozy pop-up with playful Christmas kitsch and a very smart space for holiday fun. The brainchild of marketing professionals Hillary Banks Self and Abbi Rinderknecht, Cousin Eddie’s is a photo booth, bar, and lounge in the Plaza District parking lot south of The Mule.
Both Self and Rinderknecht spent roughly 20 years in the L.A. area, where Self worked for big-name brands like Red Bull and Fiji, and Rinderknecht focused primarily on events and event marketing. The two returned to Oklahoma City during the pandemic, and Self said she gave herself until the start of 2021 to find a job.
“I made a commitment to myself that if I didn’t find a job, I’d start my own business,” she said. “January arrived, I didn’t have a job, so Abbi and I started Airdream, LLC.”
“Airdream” because from the start, the two had their eyes on the abandoned Airstream in the Plaza District. They purchased the structurally sound but internally neglected trailer in September, gutted it, and started making plans.
“Cousin Eddie’s seemed like a great concept for Christmas, and because we haven’t had time to fully outfit the Airstream yet,” Self said. “Ultimately, we want it to be a mobile lounge, but we also wanted to get started. The parking lot in Plaza is perfect for this first pop-up.”
The repurposed Airstream is for now a tin-can-esque Christmas bar fueled by Rindernknecht’s bartending experience and love of boozy cocktails. The menu includes mulled wine, spiked egg nog, jello shots (of course), a beer-shot combo, and a very easy to drink, delicious “trailer park punch.” Rinderknecht recruited a couple of local bartenders to help with volume, and guests can order simple cocktails like one-and-ones, as well as spiked or alcohol-free hot chocolate. Cousin Eddie’s is family-friendly in that respect. Guests are asked for ID at the bar, and red wristbands will be used to designate those of legal age who wish to drink.
Adjacent to the bar is a large, abundantly decorated tent that functions as a lounge, holding more than 60 guests comfortably. For good days, there is outdoor seating, and then of course, there’s the photo booth. It’s a “replica” of Cousin Eddie’s living room, complete with tree, stockings, and a fireplace. Randy Quaid made the role famous in the Vacation series of movies with Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo.
Self said the next pop-up for Airdream will be a Valentine’s theme, but she’s not releasing details yet. They’re focused on Cousin Eddie’s, including making plans for a Dec. 22 party with Clubby Seltzers—the local company’s holiday seltzer Cashmere Sweater (made in partnership with Stonecloud Brewing) is also available at the pop-up.
Cousin Eddie’s will be open Thursday-Saturday through Dec. 18, and then Dec. 22-23. Hours and more information are available on its website.