Very lightly adapted from Rick Bayless's Mexican Kitchen. A note on the chipotles: Bayless recommends "the cranberry-red chiles called chipotle colorado or morita" but adds that the brown chipotle mecos will work too. —Nicholas Day
In a medium saucepan, cover the chiles with water and bring to a full boil. Then drain off the water, cover the chiles with warm tap water (put a plate on top to keep them submerged), and let them soak for 10 minutes. Drain, cover again with warm water, and soak for another 10 minutes. Then drain most of the water (but not every last bit) and transfer the chiles to a large jar. (Don't squish them in like sardines; they'll need some elbow room.)
Combine all the remaining ingredients in a saucepan with 1 1/4 cups of water. Bring to a simmer and stir until the sugar completely dissolves. Pour the mixture over the chiles in the jar and stir, nudging the garlic and herbs down toward the chiles. The chiles should be completely submerged; if they're not, add equal amounts of vinegar and water. Taste for salt (it should be slightly salty), cover, and refrigerate for a day or more before serving.