In the quest toward a more homegrown bar, we started our bitter herb infusions in mid-February: a fat pinch of said herb covered with a few ounces of high proof alcohol. The goal was to end up with a highly potent extract of various bittering elements which we could then either mix to form cocktail bitters or add to a batch of house vermouth.
Checking the infusions every few days for the first month was not reassuring: they were picking up color from the herbs, but still smelled only of alcohol. So we left them alone for awhile. Coming back a few weeks later they had a faint whiff of herb, but still mostly alcohol. It wasn't until I dipped my finger in one and licked it that I realized it had worked: I was overwhelmed by the flavor of the herb, a miniscule drop packing a whollop of flavor. It was the same for all the others: wormwood, mugwort, gentian, orange peel, angelica, quassia, and warm spice. A panoply of flavors and colors, ready for the straining.