There are three basic components of a successful dinner party - drink, company and food (in that order) perfectly combined. This perfect combination is sometimes hard to come by but one thing that makes it more likely is to ask your guests to B.Y.O.B. Yes, I said B.Y.O.B. I was recently invited to a dinner party/barbeque that was B.Y.O.B. Although some etiquette snobs might say this is a social faux pas and I once agreed, I have changed my mind and am now a HUGE fan of B.Y.O.B. at a dinner party, mostly because my husband is simply the best bartender I know and since we've been together over 18 years, he knows exactly what I like to drink. B.Y.O.B. will ensure that your guests are drinking what they like. No point in drinking something at the party you don't like if you are there to have a good time. And, if everyone is drinking what they like, they will continue to drink and become more interesting as the night progress. Thus, meeting the second component of the DPT. You might even have some new BFFs before the night is done. This frees up the hosts to focus on the menu to meet the third component as they don't have to worry about what they will serve to drink (other than the typical white/red wines). This was certainly the case at this particular DP. The food was AMAZING! I brought my blood-orange soda and vodka mix (my husband was out of town and couldn't make my drinks so this was the best I could do) and that was good enough for me.
So, if you're throwing a dinner party, don't be afraid to ask your guests to bring their favorite cocktail/wine - it will keeps your costs down and let you focus on your menu. But be sure you wow them with your food. You can't get away with asking them to bring their own booze and then serve a mediocre meal! If you are not known for your cooking, then you should plan on having a well-stocked bar for your guests so they won't notice. By the time dinner is served, it will be the best food they ever ate. Of course, dinner parties are supposed to be about the good company, conversation, etc., but Letiquette requires that you have the trifecta: good drinks and good company and good food. If you ask your guests to bring their own drinks, this is perfectly acceptable for the reasons stated above, so the only thing left is good food....and if I'm invited somewhere for dinner and asked to bring my own drinks, then the hosts better not be serving me crap on a cracker.