Doritos and Budweiser, canapes and Champagne, jamon and Tempranillo — when it comes to happy hour, everyone has their favorite combination of booze and umami-infused treats. In Japan, where sipping sake and nibbling on pickles or dried fish has defined leisure time for centuries, the scene is enlivened by traditional pairings of snacks and liquor. To help figure out what works best with what, I asked some experts on cocktail-hour munching.

First stop is the Japanese pub, where mass-produced lagers dominate the beer list and the appetizer menu ranges from the raw to the deep-fried.

"There's a reason why most people at an izakaya start with beer," says Mark Robinson, the author of "Izakaya: The Japanese Pub Cookbook" (Kodansha USA, 2012). "Apart from it being the quickest way to organize a toast, it clears the palate. If you want to dive straight into the deep-fried stuff, fine. But the raw, live taste of beer pairs better with sashimi. It's a light and energizing combo and you don't have to eat in a hurry — it won't go cold."