Back in 1694, Admiral Edward Russell had a solid career in the Royal Navy, and was well-respected -- at least until the day he threw a bash for his fleet. The party centered around a cocktail Russell, the 1st Earl of Oxford, concocted in an enormous fountain using 250 gallons of brandy, 125 gallons of Málaga wine, 1,400 pounds of sugar, 2,500 lemons, 20 gallons of lime juice and 5 pounds of nutmeg. Bartenders sat in canoes in the fountain, ladling out the drink. The bartenders rotated out every 15 minutes so they wouldn't pass out from the fumes or become intoxicated. Although about 5,000 people attended the party, it took them eight days to finish the cocktail, resulting in a long, drawn-out, probably quite drunken, celebration [source: Motilo].
Amazing parties have been thrown throughout the ages, typically by those like Russell, who have the wealth or notoriety to pull them off. Not all of them are the same flavor of outrageous as Russell's, though. The following 10 fêtes run the gamut of soirée styles, from sumptuous, but relatively staid, affairs filled with formal attire, decadent eats and over-the-top décor to creative events with unusual attire or themes.